As you may have noticed, a new addition to the Sundance Film Festival is a much bigger emphasis on foreign film.

Running parallel with the two series of American independent films (feature films and documentaries) is a World Cinema series, where prizes are also given to the best feature film and best documentary film submitted from all around the world.

Of 448 foreign independent documentaries submitted to this year's festival, 16 were selected to compete and will be given multiple screenings throughout the festival's 10 days — films representing Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and other corners of the world.

One timely entry is the Israeli documentary "Five Days," in which seven different film crews simultaneously followed some of the participants as 8,000 Jewish settlers were removed from their homes in the Gaza strip to make room for 250,000 Palestinians.

Another film of political interest is "Dear Pyongyang," in which a father's fierce and devastating loyalty to North Korea is examined by his Korean-Japanese daughter.

The Swiss documentary "Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet," focuses on a rebellious monk, while also offering us a chance to see the contrasts between old and present Tibet.

From Switzerland, "The Giant Buddhas" examines the eruption of fanaticism and terror when Afghanistan's famous Buddha statues are destroyed.

In "Glastonbury," from Great Britain, the well-known director Julian Temple provides insights as he takes us to England's annual Glastonbury music festival, with its wide range of musical styles.

"Songbirds," also from the U.K., is a musical set in Downview Prison, where the women inmates sing about their lives and how they ended up where they are.

A third documentary from the British Isles is "Black Gold," which takes us from coffee-bean growers in Ethiopia all the way to the coffee cup in an eye-opening journey.

Yet a fourth — "KZ" — examines the town Mauthausen, a former German prison camp, and the way it has affected the town's inhabitants.

From France, "By the Ways: A Journey with William Eggleston," features on the man who has been called "the father of color photography," and his home in America's South.

In "Unfolding Florence: the Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst," Australian director Gillian Armstrong focuses on the flamboyant female designer who is now in demand for her exotic wallpaper creations.

The German-Swiss production, "The Short Life of Antonio Gutierrez" follows the true story of a Guatemalan street child whose longing for a better life draws him into joining the military and, ironically, becoming the first U.S. soldier to die in Iraq.

"I for India" is a co-production from England, Italy and Germany, where, with mainly Super-8 films and audio letters, we follow a tale of migration over a period of 40 years.

In Mexico's "In the Pit," shows workers struggling to build a second level to Mexico City's Periferico freeway, while an old legend— in which the devil demands one soul in exchange for keeping a new bridge from collapsing — lingers ominously in the background.

The German documentary "Into Great Silence" gives us the first look into the monastic life inside the sacred quarters of the Carthusian order.

Rounding out the 16 documentaries in competition, the Italian film "Viva Zapatero" looks at censorship in Italy under the leadership of Berlusconi and contrasts it to that of other nations in Europe.


E-mail: marshalldj@iveracity.com