Entertainment

Atwood-inspired doc on Sundance lineup

Three Canadian documentaries, including an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's best-selling book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, will have their world premieres at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
A scene from China Heavyweight, the film by Yung Chang that will premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January. (Liu Yang/Sundance)

Three Canadian documentaries, including an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's best-selling book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, will have their world premieres at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

The Sundance Institute released a list of 58 films in competition on Wednesday. The festival runs Jan. 19 to 29 in Park City, Utah.

Toronto documentary maker Jennifer Baichwal directed Payback, an NFB production based on Atwood’s book about debt, how it influences societies and how it is affecting the fate of the planet. Atwood gave a series of Massey Lectures on the subject of debt in 2008.

"The film explores the link between debtor and creditor in a variety of contexts - from the mountains of northern Albania to the tomato fields of southern Florida - blending compelling stories of 'owing' and 'being owed' with the insights of renowned thinkers like Karen Armstrong, Louise Arbour, William Rees and Raj Patel, as well as personal reflections from Conrad Black and others," said a statement from Mongrel Media, which will release the film in Canada.

Payback is one of 12 films chosen for the World Documentary program at Sundance.

Another is China Heavyweight by Montreal director Yung Chang, who earned a Genie Award for his 2008 film Up the Yangtze.  

Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky of Winnipeg will screen their film about indie gaming at Sundance. (Ian McCausland)

China Heavyweight again takes him to his native China, where a coach recruits poor rural teenagers and turns them into Western-style boxing champions.

The other Canadian contender is Indie Game: The Movie, a film about indie game developers, directed by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky of Winnipeg.

The U.S. documentary competition includes a film directed by Alison Klayman about controversial and fearless Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

The feature film lineup will bring Michael Cera, Jason Ritter and Amanda Seyfried in The End of Love, a drama by indie film veteran Mark Webber.

Also on the lineup:

  • Nobody Walks, starring John Krasinski.
  • The Surrogate, starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt.
  • Hello I Must Be Going, starring Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner and Christopher Abbott.

The Sundance Film Festival has a mandate to focus on independent filmmaking from around the world. The opening night program has not yet been announced.