Watching the Alison Klayman documentary Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry, a lot of us felt like cheering. Ai is a world-class artist and architect who is also one of China's most outspoken dissidents. His mantra is, "If you don't act, the danger becomes stronger." The film humanizes him without detracting from the symbolic importance he holds for a new generation of Chinese, who avidly follow his rallying cry, "Don't retreat, retweet." Ai was detained for 81 days in 2011 by the Chinese government just as this film, which was shot over three years, was wrapping up, giving it a special poignancy. As the film makes clear, what happens to Ai is vitally important to understanding China's – and by extension, the world's – future.
IN PICTURES: Sundance Film Festival 2012
Despite the dangerousness of his dissidence, Ai still manages to enjoy several good meals in this documentary. Suggested blurb: "This film made me very angry – and very hungry."
Chasing Ice is a documentary by Jeff Orlowski about global warming unlike any others I've seen. (Weatherwise, my Sundance experience could be characterized as "Chased by Ice." If only Redford had been a surfer instead of a skier, we might all be watching movies in Kauai.) National Geographic photographer James Balog created the Extreme Ice Survey, in which 30 cameras across three continents record irrefutable evidence of the Earth's melting ice. The sped-up results of this survey have a harrowing power that no set of graphs or stack of statistics can convey. Looking fit as a mountaineer, Balog, at the public screening, spun a cautionary rap. "Carbon fuels used to be our best friend, but now we need new ways of thinking about the world. It's outrageous that the air we share is used as a garbage dump."