The Sundance Film Festival attracts large audiences from all over the world to Park City, Utah. While many of the films feature mature content and none are officially rated, the Sundance Institute has recommended 23 films for younger viewers. The films featured here were suggested for high school-age students or families. These films will be released at the festival beginning Jan. 17.

"A River Changes Course"

Three young Cambodians struggle to overcome the crushing effects of deforestation, overfishing and overwhelming debt in this devastatingly beautiful story of a country reeling from the tragedies of war and rushing to keep pace with a rapidly expanding world.

"Ain't Them Bodies Saint"

Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie, an impassioned young outlaw couple on an extended crime spree, are finally apprehended by lawmen after a shootout in the Texas hills.

Although Ruth wounds a local officer, Bob takes the blame. But four years later, Bob escapes from prison and sets out to find Ruth and their daughter, born during his incarceration.

The beautiful, irreconcilable dilemma of the story is that Ruth — compelled by the responsibilities of motherhood and her evolving relationship with the deputy she shot — remains haunted by her intense feelings for Bob. Each of them longs for some form of peace.


Jane’s life-size paper doll of Mr. Darcy and her “I Love Darcy” tote may be tattered, but even in her 30s, she hasn’t grown out of her obsession with all things Jane Austen.

Careworn by love, she saves enough to fulfill her dream of stepping into Austen’s world and heads to Austenland for an “immersive” vacation to eschew all things modern.

And it couldn’t be more perfect.

There’s an imposing manor with verdant grounds for afternoon promenades, rosy-faced servants, trusty steeds for hunting expeditions, gilded drawing rooms for evenings spent in polite conversation, and, yes, gallant young suitors.

Unfortunately, due to limited funds, she’s relegated to lesser quarters and drearier costumes than fellow bachelorette guests, but her cares melt away as she catches the eye of a young footman, and she’s swept into a romantic adventure she could never have imagined.


Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000-pound orcas, or “killer whales,” soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet, in our contemporary lore this mighty black-and-white mammal is like a two-faced Janus — beloved as a majestic, friendly giant yet infamous for its capacity to kill viciously.

"Blackfish" unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who — unlike any orca in the wild — has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what exactly went wrong?

"Blood Brother"

The unmistakable power of love is celebrated in this story of one man’s decision to move to India and restart his life among the dispossessed.

“Rocky Anna,” as the children living at an orphanage for those infected with HIV know him, was dissatisfied with his life in America. Having grown up without a close-knit family of his own, he found his calling living and working with children in need. Unlike others who simply passed through, Rocky stayed, dedicating himself to their health and well-being.

Despite formidable challenges, his playful spirit and determination in the face of despair proves to be an invaluable resource.

"Google and the World Brain"

The goal of accumulating all human knowledge in one repository has been a dream since ancient times. Only recently, however, has that dream become a reality.

Quietly and behind closed doors, Google has been executing a project to scan and digitize every printed word on the planet.

Working with the world’s most prestigious libraries, the webmasters are reinventing the limits of copyright in the name of free access to anyone, anywhere.

What can possibly be wrong with this picture?

As "Google and the World Brain" reveals, a whole lot.

Some argue that Google’s actions represent aggressive theft on an enormous scale, others see them as an attempt to monopolize our shared cultural heritage, and still others view the project as an attempt to flatten our minds by consolidating complex ideas into searchable “extra long tweets.”

At first slowly, and then with intensifying conviction, a diverse coalition mobilizes to stop the fulfillment of this ambitious dream.

"Inequality for All"

In lectures, books, and years of commentary, former labor secretary and current UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich has argued passionately that widening income inequality poses one of the most severe threats to our economy and our democracy.

Filmmaker Jacob Kornbluth, inspired by Reich’s book "Aftershock," tackles this massive topic by effectively adapting Reich himself into documentary form.

Asking how we got here and what happens if we don’t act, they dissect countless issues — among them wage stagnation, consolidated wealth, manufacturing, financial instruments, capital markets, globalization, and election politics — with an uncanny ability to render complex principles digestible.

In addition to interviews with other economists, politicians and experts, Kornbluth documents the struggles of regular working people for whom the American dream is increasingly untenable.

"Life According to Sam"

Progeria is an extremely rare and fatal disease, exemplified by extreme aging in the children who are afflicted by it.

There is no treatment. There is no cure.

Enter Doctors Leslie Gordon and Scott Berns. When their son, Sam, was diagnosed with progeria at age 2, the prognosis was grim — the couple was simply told to enjoy the short time they had left with their son — but they weren’t willing to give up that easily.

They spearheaded a campaign to save Sam and the other children in the world who share this devastating illness. Spanning less than a decade, their extraordinary advances have led to not only identifying the gene that causes progeria, but also the amazing discovery that it is linked to the aging process in all of us.


In February 2012, an entire nation of basketball fans unexpectedly went “Linsane.”

Stuck in the mire of a disappointing season, the New York Knicks did what no other NBA team had thought about doing — they gave backup point guard Jeremy Lin an opportunity to prove himself.

He took full advantage, scoring more points in his first five NBA starts than any other player in the modern era and creating a legitimate public frenzy in the process.

Prior to this now-legendary run, Lin had faced adversity in his career at every turn. He wasn’t offered a scholarship by any major university, nor was he drafted by any NBA team after a standout collegiate career at Harvard.

"Muscle Shoals"

Down in Alabama, Rick Hall founded FAME Studios and gave birth to the Muscle Shoals sound.

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Gregg Allman, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Bono and others bear witness to the greatest untold American music story.


When Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet calls for a referendum to decide his permanence in power, the opposition persuades a young advertising executive to head its campaign.

With limited resources and under scrutiny, he conceives a plan to win the election.

"Pandora's Promise"

The atomic bomb, the specter of a global nuclear holocaust and disasters like Fukushima have made nuclear energy synonymous with the darkest nightmares of the modern world. But what if everyone has nuclear power wrong?

What if people knew that there are reactors that are self-sustaining and fully controllable and ones that require no waste disposal?

What if nuclear power is the only energy source that has the ability to stop climate change?

Prolific documentarian Robert Stone and environmentalists, scientists and energy experts share the reasons they have changed their minds from being fiercely anti– to strongly pro–nuclear energy.

"Primate Cinema: Apes As Family"

Chimpanzees, our closest relatives, like to watch television. What would a film made expressly for chimps look like?

Created with a primatologist and actors in chimp suits, a primate drama is presented to chimpanzees at the Edinburgh Zoo.


When Salma, a young girl in South India, reached puberty, her parents locked her away.

Millions of girls all over the world share the same fate. Twenty-five years later, Salma has fought her way back to the outside world.

"Thank You"

A pack of fire wolves attack a snow golem in the forest and accidentally leave a cub behind after their retreat.

The golem's life is thrown into chaos as he attempts to reunite the cub with its family.

"The Crash Reel"

This eye-popping, yet intimate, profile of U.S. champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce exposes the potentially high price of participating in action sports.

Poised to compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics alongside Shaun White, Kevin suffered massive head trauma during a 2009 training run in Park City, Utah. His tight-knit Vermont family flew to his side, and together they began an intensive yearlong process of rehabilitating him.

Kevin’s determination and the tireless support of family and friends helped him stay focused on recovery. But when he insisted he wanted to return to the sport he loved, his family objected.

As an elite athlete, Kevin was a professional risk taker, but as a brain-injury survivor, his skills were now impaired, and his chance of doing more damage was significant.

"The Moo Man"

A year in the life of heroic farmer Steve, scene-stealing Ida (queen of the herd) and a supporting cast of 55 cows. When Ida falls ill, Steve’s optimism is challenged, and their whole way of life is at stake.

"The Secret of Trees"

What do trees know that we don't? Thirteen-year-old inventor Aidan has discovered that trees use a mathematical formula to gather sunlight in crowded forests. Now he wonders why we don’t collect solar energy in the same way.

"The Summit"

Although K2 is only the second-highest peak in the world, it is renowned as the most dangerous and revered by mountaineers as their ultimate challenge.

In August 2008, 18 of 24 climbers reached the summit of K2. Forty-eight hours later, 11 people were dead. What happened on that fateful day has never been resolved.

Utilizing found footage, interviews with survivors, and seamlessly realistic reenactments, "The Summit" zigzags back and forth in time, interweaving multiple narrative threads and piecing together events, hoping to solve the mystery of what actually happened on that day — the deadliest in mountain-climbing history. At the heart of the mystery is the story of Ger McDonnell, one extraordinary man who chose to risk his own life to save others.

"The Way Way Back"

Duncan, an introverted 14-year-old, comes into his own over the course of a comedic summer when he forms unlikely friendships with the gregarious manager of a rundown water park and the misfits who work there.

"Twenty Feet from Stardom"

Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead — until now.

"When I Walk"

At 25, filmmaker and artist Jason DaSilva finds out he has a severe form of multiple sclerosis.

This film shares his personal and grueling journey over the next seven years. Along the way, an unlikely miracle changes everything.

"You Don’t Know Jack"

Jack Andraka, a high school sophomore, has developed a revolutionary new test for pancreatic cancer, proving the future of science is in the hands of our youth.