hot off the theater seats of the sundance film festival, executive director terri conners and artistic director/co-founder, andrea van beuren are psyched for the 2013 newportFILM line-up. “across the board everyone felt that this year’s sundance was pretty exceptional. each film was so different from the next that it seemed important to try to see them all,” says andrea. “my absolute favorite of the bunch, BLOOD BROTHER, ended up winning the audience award AND the grand jury award, so fingers crossed we’ll be able to bring that one to newport.”

BLOOD BROTHER (watch trailer) director steve hoover—who is best friends with his subject—ventured to India to chronicle rocky’s newfound life in this beautifully crafted and personal film. The bond Rocky forges with his friend and the deep connection he makes with the children he serves is BLOOD BROTHER’S testament to one person’s ability to create a meaningful life. other favorites included…

THE SUMMIT, winner of the editing award (watch trailer) 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.

CUTIE AND THE BOXER, winner of the directing award (watch video interview with director) an indelible portrait of art, companionship, and the 40-year love story between ushio and noriko shinohara, two japanese artists who meet and marry in new york in the early 1970s. surviving decades of hardship, resentment, financial anxiety, thwarted aspirations, and ushio’s chronic alcoholism, they are a study in artistic symbiosis.

THE CRASH REEL (watch video with director and film subject) this eye-popping, yet intimate, story of U.S. champion snowboarder kevin pearce uses years of vérité footage to expose the excitement and appeal, as well as the high stakes, of participating in extreme-action sports. training to compete against longtime rival shaun white at the 2010 winter olympics, kevin suffered severe traumatic brain injury from a 2009 accident in park city, utah. his tight-knit vermont family flew to his side, and together they began an intensive process of trying to rehabilitate him and help him rebuild his permanently damaged life. Kevin’s determination and the tireless support of family and friends kept him 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 even a small blow to the head could kill him.

STORIES WE TELL (watch trailer) polley turns the camera on her own family and creates an essay/love letter to her actor parents: diane, who passed away when she was 11, and michael. in the process, she investigates a mystery she initially wasn’t even sure existed. when polley pulls back the layers of the stories told by her siblings and close family friends, differing perceptions and buried secrets rise to the surface—with some very surprising revelations.

TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM (watch video with director) traces the backup singers’ history—from those phil spector–produced pop tunes and soul-inspired british explosion acts (joe cocker, the rolling stones) of the 1960s, to their reversal of fortune when the recording industry changed in the 1990s, and into today. filmmaker morgan neville’s unprecedented look at the moving personal journeys of these normally uncelebrated artists pays tribute to their indelible role in popular music.  when scouring the festival scene for film choices, we always have an eye and ear on what will resonate at home. “before leaving for sundance,” andrea said, “i made the effort to watch the online trailers for all the films that I thought would play well in newport and interestingly enough, many of the films that stood out ended up being films that won some sort of an award.” 2012 will be hard to top, but we know you won’t be disappointed this year. cross your fingers that some of these great picks make it to newport!