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Sundance 2013: Documentaries shine in Utah

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There are many reasons – luck, drive, timing – why these women are not as well known as the famous lead singers, but their pipes are every bit as good. With the rise of rap and synthesized musicmaking, the “big” sound of these women is increasingly in less demand, to the detriment of us all.

Inspirationalism was also the order of the day for Lucy Walker’s “The Crash Reel,” about Kevin Pearce, the snowboarding champ who has slowly come back from a traumatic brain injury (suffered in a 2009 fall on the Park City slopes). Walker made the movie while Pearce, who at one time wanted to return to big-time snowboarding and now advocates for brain-injury victims, was very much still on the brink. She worried that her film might have this “terrible tragic ending.”

Pearce’s entire family, whose unfailing support is clearly his touchstone, was on hand at Sundance. At a party for documentary films, Pearce wanted to know what I thought of the film and then offered up his own extended review. It was mostly positive. Whew!

I had a very political day and a half when I caught in succession Frieda Mock’s “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power,” about Anita Hill; “The World According to Dick Cheney,” directed by R.J. Cutler and Greg Finton; Alex Gibney’s marvelous “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks”; and Richard Rowley’s eye-opening “Dirty Wars,” which follows reporter/whistle-blower Jeremy Scahill’s investigations into covert military operations conducted by the United States in more than 70 countries, including some that are supposed American allies.

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