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Films At Sundance Reflect Vast Cultural Shifts Across The World


At the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, people cannot get away from the issue of sexual harassment. It's the first festival post-Harvey Weinstein. And Sundance founder Robert Redford kicked off this year's event by acknowledging the elephant in the room.


ROBERT REDFORD: Well, I think Harvey Weinstein was like a moment in time. And I think that we're going to move past that. I don't think he's going to stop the show.

MCEVERS: NPR's Mandalit del Barco is at Sundance, and she's with us now to talk about what's going on. Hey there.


MCEVERS: Robert Redford's usually a pretty, you know, measured, tactful person. I mean, just what - hearing what we just heard sounds like pretty strong words. How has the festival dealt with the Harvey Weinstein issue, especially given that one of the more horrifying allegations against him is that he raped Rose McGowan at that festival?

DEL BARCO: Well, you know, the first question at the press conference opening the festival was if Sundance somehow enabled Harvey Weinstein. And Keri Putnam, who heads the Sundance Institute, she said they weren't aware at the time of what happened. And she said they're sickened by the allegations. That was her words. And, you know, they announced that Utah's attorney general's office now has a 24-hour hotline for people to report sexual misconduct.


DEL BARCO: And Sundance has created a code of conduct that says that they can revoke credentials or access to any event to anybody who harasses, discriminates, threatens or, you know, engages in somehow disrespectful behavior.

MCEVERS: And I'm thinking about the films, too, of course. We should talk about the films, right?


MCEVERS: Last year, the ones that broke out are, you know, big films now - "The Big Sick," "Call Me By Your Name," "Get Out." So what are the big ones this year?

DEL BARCO: Well, you know, Sundance is known for its strong documentaries. And one of them is about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And, Kelly, NPR's own Nina Totenberg will be interviewing her here at a small venue. And that's a really hot ticket.


DEL BARCO: But there are also other - there are also other documentaries about Joan Jett and rapper M.I.A. and Jane Fonda and civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, who's been representing many of those women who accused Harvey Weinstein and comedian Bill Cosby and Roy Moore of sexual harassment and rape. And on Saturday, Allred and Fonda are scheduled to speak at a rally on the anniversary of the Women's March. It's also the anniversary of Trump's inauguration.

And there's one film called "Our New President," which is the story of the last election told through the eyes of Russian media propaganda and people who live there. Another documentary is called "Dark Money." It's about the impact of contributions by Citizens United on Montana's politics. And also, I heard that there's a seven-minute film that's footage of a Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in 1939 that's supposed to have very eerie parallels to today.

MCEVERS: Wow. I mean, Nazis and coverage of the election. It sounds like a lot of documentaries related to the news. What are some of the, you know, feature films that people are getting into?

DEL BARCO: Well, you know, last night I went to a premiere of "Blindspotting," which is a movie set in my hometown, Oakland, Calif.

MCEVERS: All right.

DEL BARCO: It was co-written and it stars Daveed Diggs from "Hamilton." There's another movie about Oakland from musician Boots Riley. And people are talking about a documentary about Mr. Rogers. There are two films about skateboarding and a film from Gus Van Sant called "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot" with Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill.

MCEVERS: NPR arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco in Park City, Utah, thanks so much, and have fun.

DEL BARCO: Thanks, Kelly.

(SOUNDBITE OF MTBRD FEAT. FLAMINGOSIS' "FANFARE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.