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Sundance Film Festival
"Russian Lessons" focuses on the two sides of the frontline during the Russian-Georgian conflict in August 2008.

Ever since Sundance essentially divided in two — giving an emphasis to world cinema as well as to American independent film — filmgoers have been discovering the joy and the excitement of films from not only European, Asian and South American capitals, but also from such far-flung places as Iran, Ghana and Tibet.

For foreign fare, the upcoming festival at Park City looks as promising as ever with 12 documentary films having been selected from a total of 782 international documentary submissions. Additionally, 14 narrative films selected from an amazing total of 1,022 submissions from far-away lands.

Among this year's promising collection of new documentaries, Russia, Georgia and Norway have teamed together to produce an eye- opening documentary called "Russian Lessons," which examines Russia's motives and actions in 2008 when news of "ethnic cleansing" in the region of Georgia was reported.

In another stirring documentary, called "Enemies of the People" and coming from the combined efforts of England and Cambodia, shocking revelations are unearthed when a young journalist whose family had been killed by the Khmer Rouge searches out and befriends the perpetrators of the notorious Killing Fields genocide.

Still another film from the United Kingdom, called "Waste Land," documents the plight of the "garbage pickers" in the world's largest landfill found in Rio de Janeiro.

And coming from Brazil itself is "Secrets of the Tribe," which questions academic anthropologist's representation of the indigenous Indians in the Amazon Basin.

"Sins of My Father," also from South America, is a documentary from Argentina and Colombia, dealing firsthand with a man's attempt to flee his past and move beyond the questionable legacy of his father, the notorious Colombian warlord Pablo Escobar.

Making its world premiere is "A Film Unfinished," a German/Israeli effort, which focuses on an actual film discovered in Nazi archives, revealing the mechanisms used to stage Warsaw Ghetto life.

"Kick in Iran" concerns the problems of the first female professional Taekwondo fighter in a country where women are expected to play only a subordinate role.

And in "The Last Train Home," problems abound in China when a migrant-worker family tries, along with 200 million other peasants, to reunite with their distant family.

From Denmark comes a fascinating documentary, called "The Red Chapel," in which a comedian, an unscrupulous journalist, and a self-proclaimed spastic make their way to North Korea to challenge one of the world's most notorious regimes under the guise of "attempting to make a cultural exchange."

As we're beginning to see, all documentaries are not based on big events. Premiering internationally is a film called "Fix ME," produced by France, Switzerland and the Palestinian Territories. Sure to be far more interesting than it might at first appear, it centers on Palestinian filmmaker Reed Andoni's countless attempt to rid himself of an ongoing headache in Ramallah.

Likewise, "His and Hers," from Ireland, centers on 70 Irish women presenting their enlightening insights concerning the relationships between women and men.

And not to be overlooked is a humorous documentary from Switzerland called "Space Tourists," which looks at the way billionaires are now departing from our planet Earth to take trips into outer space — just for the pure fun of it.

Don Marshall is the retired director of the BYU International Cinema program.