Sundance 2020: Ron Howard’s California wildfire documentary and more Day Two highlights

"Rebuilding Paradise"
Ron Howard’s documentary “Rebuilding Paradise” premieres Jan. 24 at Sundance.
(Noah Berger / AP)

First Friday at the Sundance Film Festival brings a cascade of high-wattage premieres and filmmakers hitting venues all over Park City to tout them. Thursday’s main event was the premiere of the Netflix Taylor Swift doc “Miss Americana,” with the star subject making a surprise appearance at the Eccles theater to celebrate Lana Wilson’s revealing film. Justin Simien’s “Bad Hair,” about a woman battling her own killer weave, also made a big splash at the Ray.

Here’s what the L.A. Times Entertainment team is looking out for on Day Two (some events are invitation only):

Friday films to see

Sundance favorite Aubrey Plaza stars alongside Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon in “Black Bear,” a weekend-away psychodrama premiering at the Library Center Theatre at noon.

“You wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out? It’s kind of long but full of suspense.” Landing at the Eccles at 12:15 p.m. is “Zola,” Janicza Bravo’s (“Lemon”) wild road-trip adventure that was developed from the fest competition’s most unusual IP: a series of 144 tweets posted by A’Ziah King in October 2015.

Kenneth Turan previews a standout selection of narrative and documentary films set to premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

From the Academy Award–winning director of “Icarus,” Bryan Fogel, comes “The Dissident,” a portrait of slain Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, at 2:30 p.m. at the MARC. Fogel is making the festival rounds together with the late Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cenjiz.


Ron Howard’s Nat Geo documentary “Rebuilding Paradise” premieres at 5:45 at the Prospector. The film chronicles how a Northern California community — “a small town with an outsize personality,” wrote The Times’ Kenneth Turan in his fest preview — has fought to rebuild in the wake of the devastating 2018 Camp fire.

Rock back to the ’80s with Alison Ellwood’s Showtime documentary “The Go-Go’s,” screening at the Library at 9. All five band members will be in attendance to share the night with Ellwood, the filmmaker behind HBO’s acclaimed Eagles documentary and “American Jihad.”

Talks and celebrations

L.A. Times Live kicks off the first of five filmmaker panels at Chase Sapphire on Main: Mark Olsen will lead a conversation with “Worth” director Sara Colangelo (“The Kindergarten Teacher”) and cast including Stanley Tucci and Amy Ryan at noon, ahead of the film’s 9 p.m. premiere at the Eccles. Ken Feinberg, the attorney whose work with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is the subject of the film, will also join the panel.

At 1 p.m., activists Ai-jen Poo (National Domestic Workers Alliance), #MeToo leader Tarana Burke, Fatima Goss Graves (National Women’s Law Center and Time’s Up) and Mónica Ramírez (Justice for Migrant Women) will join actress and activist Rosanna Arquette for "#MeToo Voter: Centering Survivors’ Political Power” at The Latinx House, a first-time venue for the fest.

The Audible Speakeasy at 692 Main hosts The Times’ filmmaker panel “How We Made It” at 2:30 p.m., moderated by Amy Kaufman. Breaking down the practical and creative challenges of getting a story to the screen will be Ron Howard, Heidi Ewing (“I Carry You With Me” premieres Sunday), Rebecca Hall (“The Night House” hits the Library at 11:59 p.m.), Sasheer Zamata (“Spree” bows at 8:30 at the MARC) and Amy Ziering, whose sexual assault doc “On the Record” premieres Saturday — but has already made headlines after Oprah Winfrey distanced herself from the project.

At 3, CAA Amplify and the Ford Foundation fete Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman and Eli Despres’s ACLU documentary “The Fight,” executive produced by Kerry Washington and Pilar Savone, at The MACRO Lodge on Heber and Main.

The Cut and Fire TV host a 5 p.m. conversation about “How I Get it Done” in the entertainment industry at O.P. Rockwell with WarnerMedia’s Sarah Aubrey, Zazie Beetz (star of competition title “Nine Days,” premiering Monday), CNN’s Amy Entelis and Dee Rees, who premieres “The Last Thing He Wanted,” adapted from the novel by Joan Didion, on Monday.