By Scott Weinberg. Reprinted from Sundance Film Festival, 2009

I now know more about black womens' hair than any middle-class Jewish guy ever has.

The lessons come connected to a new documentary called Good Hair, which was produced by Chris Rock for HBO Films. And once again, my attendance at a film festival has compelled me to watch a documentary that, otherwise, I'd have little to no interest in -- but I walked out 90 minutes later rather well-informed on a topic that, under normal circumstances, I'd never have a reason to care about.

I'm not a hairdresser, I'm not all that interested in fashion, and I'm certainly not a black woman ... so what would a film like Good Hair have to offer? Well, I think it's always cool to learn a little something about other cultures, and when I heard what Good Hair was actually about, I started thinking ... hey, yeah, this could actually be pretty interesting! It certainly doesn't hurt that Chris Rock is along for the ride, as the comedian is as sharp and amusing as ever, but what the flick taught me is that, well, the way one wears their hair is of particular importance to women ... and there are some issues that are very specific to black women.

Rock starts off by offering a few ideas on WHY women go to such elaborate lengths to control their hair (even if he leaves some of the cultural reasons out of the equation), but then we're treated to a jaunt across the country as Rock delves into the industry of A) "relaxer," B) "weaves," and C) the billion-dollar industry that keeps the products flowing. Heck, Rock even takes a trip to India (in one of the film's more fascinating diversions) to see where all that "weave hair" comes from.

Packed with great interviews (Al Sharpton is particularly sharp, Ice-T is very funny, and the actresses that Rock interviews are all refreshingly forthcoming about the problems inherent in "black hair") and a light-yet-respectful tone, Good Hair is a well-crafted and consistently entertaining piece of "human interest" documentary filmmaking -- although the filmmakers spend perhaps a little too much time on a big stylists' competition that's not really all that interesting in comparison to the interview segments and the barbershop / hair salon conversations.

As usual, Chris Rock promotes discussion on a minor-yet-interesting cultural issue without pandering to his subjects or talking down to his audience. His banter with normal folks is entirely refreshing: He asks firm questions, he shows respect, and (of course) he cracks quick-witted jokes. I suspect that the subject matter would still be fairly interesting without Rock's involvement, but the comedian brings a accessibility to the material that no amount of facts and figures can replace.

And frankly this colorful little documentary has given me a newfound respect for black women. I had no idea how much effort a nice head of hair requires. (Probably because I'm white, male, lazy, and mostly bald.)

Live from Sundance 2009

    Designer LisaBeth Weber smiles following the oath of office by President Barack Obama during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Katy Winn)

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    PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Writer/director Paul Saltzman of the film "Prom Night In Mississippi" pose for a portrait at the Film Lounge Media Center during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2009 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Paul Saltzman

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    Daniel (L) and Taline Dinenberg of San Francisco, California, watch the inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama on Main Street during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 20, 2009. REUTERS/Ramin Rahimian (UNITED STATES)

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    PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Producer Patricia Aquino and writer/director Paul Saltzman of the film "Prom Night In Mississippi" pose for a portrait at the Film Lounge Media Center during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2009 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Patricia Aquino;Paul Saltzman

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    PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Thuli Sibiya and Mildred Nycabo of the film "Rough Aunties" poses for a portrait at the Film Lounge Media Center during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2009 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Thuli Sibiya;Mildred Nycabo

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    PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Thuli Sibiya, director Kim Longinotto and Mildred Nycabo of the film "Rough Aunties" poses for a portrait at the Film Lounge Media Center during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2009 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Thuli Sibiya;Kim Longinotto;Mildred Nycabo

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    PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Director Jeff Lipsky, actor Donny Chiappetta, actress Maria Tucci, actor Chris Beetem and actor Chazz Palminteri of the film "Once More With Feeling" pose for a portrait at the Film Lounge Media Center during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2009 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jeff Lipsky;Donny Chiappetta;Maria Tucci;Chris Beetem;Chazz Palminteri

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    PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Director Jeff Lipsky, actor Donny Chiappetta, actress Maria Tucci, actor Chris Beetem and actor Chazz Palminteri of the film "Once More With Feeling" pose for a portrait at the Film Lounge Media Center during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2009 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jeff Lipsky;Donny Chiappetta;Maria Tucci;Chris Beetem;Chazz Palminteri

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    PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Actress Maria Tucci of the film "Once More With Feeling" poses for a portrait at the Film Lounge Media Center during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2009 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Maria Tucci

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    PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Actress Maria Tucci of the film "Once More With Feeling" poses for a portrait at the Film Lounge Media Center during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2009 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Maria Tucci

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