The 2017 Sundance Film Festival: London, taking place June1 to 4 at Picturehouse Central will present 14 feature films direct from this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The festival will open with the International premiere of Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz at Dinner, and it will close four days later with the UK premiere of David Lowery’s critically acclaimed A Ghost Story, starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.
The 2017 festival will also include a short film program with 15 shorts, including a strand dedicated to new UK shorts. For the first time, the program will include a “Surprise Film” screening which promises festivalgoers an exclusive chance to catch an audience hit from this year’s festival in Park City. Additionally, the Sundance Film Festival: London will introduce an Audience Favorite award for 2017, giving festivalgoers the chance to vote for their favorite features, with the winner announced at the close of the festival.
The Special Events program comprises three panel events and an “In Conversation” event with renowned guests, providing incredible insights into the filmmaking process. The “Independent Film Trumps Reality” panel will examine independent filmmaking in the current political climate, involving directors at the festival whose films have gained a new level of currency in the age of Trump, while the “On Collaboration: Documentary Practices and Process” panel (presented by Dropbox) will explore the themes of diversity, accessibility and progress in documentary, and the short filmmaker panel “Art vs. Stepping Stone” (presented in association with London Short Film Festival) will pose the question, “Are shorts simply a stepping stone or do they sustain a filmmaker throughout a career?” Acclaimed director David Lowery, whose highly anticipated film A Ghost Story will close the festival, will participate in an “In Conversation” event (presented in association with Empire magazine) which will be followed by a special screening of his earlier feature, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
FEATURE FILM PROGRAM
Beatriz at Dinner (Director: Miguel Arteta, Screenwriter: Mike White) – Beatriz, an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico, has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a health practitioner. Doug Strutt is a cutthroat, self-satisfied billionaire. When these two opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will ever be the same.
Principal cast: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Chloë Sevigny, Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, Connie Britton
The Big Sick (Director: Michael Showalter, Screenwriters: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani) – Based on the real-life courtship: Pakistan-born comedian Kumail and grad student Emily fall in love, but they struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail must navigate the crisis with her parents and the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.
Principal cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher
Bitch (Director/Screenwriter: Marianna Palka) – A woman snaps under crushing life pressures and assumes the psyche of a vicious dog. Her philandering, absentee husband is forced to become reacquainted with his four children and sister-in-law as they attempt to keep the family together during this bizarre crisis.
Principal cast: Jason Ritter, Jaime King, Marianna Palka, Brighton Sharbino, Rio Mangini, Kingston Foster
Bushwick (Directors: Cary Murnion, Jonathan Millot, Screenwriters: Nick Damici, Graham Reznick) – Lucy emerges from a Brooklyn subway to find that her neighborhood is under attack by black-clad military soldiers. An ex-Marine corpsman, Stupe, reluctantly helps her fight for survival through a civil war, as Texas attempts to secede from the United States of America.
Principal cast: Dave Bautista, Brittany Snow, Angelic Zambrana, Jeremie Harris, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Arturo Castro
Chasing Coral (Director: Jeff Orlowski) – Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers, and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. (Documentary)
Special preview screening
Winner of the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary
Crown Heights (Director/Screenwriter: Matt Ruskin) – When Colin Warner is wrongfully convicted of murder, his best friend, Carl King, devotes his life to proving Colin’s innocence. Adapted from This American Life, this is the incredible true story of their harrowing quest for justice.
Principal cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Paul, Bill Camp, Nestor Carbonell, Amari Cheatom
Winner of Audience Award: US Dramatic
Dina (Directors: Dan Sickles, Antonio Santini) – An eccentric suburban woman and a Walmart door greeter navigate their evolving relationship in this unconventional love story. (Documentary)
Special preview screening
Winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary
A Ghost Story (Director/screenwriter: David Lowery) – This is the story of a ghost and the house he haunts.
Principal cast: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham, Sonia Acevedo, Rob Zabrecky, Liz Franke
Icarus (Director: Bryan Fogel) – When Bryan Fogel sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports, a chance meeting with a Russian scientist transforms his story from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller involving dirty urine, unexplained death, and Olympic Gold—exposing the biggest scandal in sports history. (Documentary)
Winner of U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: The Orwell Award
The Incredible Jessica James (Director/Screenwriter: Jim Strouse) – Jessica James, an aspiring NYC playwright, is struggling to get over a recent breakup. She sees a light at the end of the tunnel when she meets the recently divorced Boone. Together, they discover how to make it through the tough times while realizing they like each other—a lot.
Principal cast: Jessica Williams, Chris O’Dowd, Lakeith Stanfield, Noël Wells
Marjorie Prime (Director/Screenwriter: Michael Almereyda) – In the near future—a time of artificial intelligence—86-year-old Marjorie has a handsome new companion who looks like her deceased husband and is programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. What would we remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance?
Principal cast: Jon Hamm, Geena Davis, Lois Smith, Tim Robbins
Winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize
Walking Out (Directors/Screenwriters: Alex Smith, Adam Smith) – A teenager journeys to Montana to hunt big game with his estranged father. The two struggle to connect, until a brutal encounter in the heart of the wilderness changes everything.
Principal cast: Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman, Alex Neustaedter, Lily Gladstone
Wilson (Director: Craig Johnson, Screenwriter: Daniel Clowes) – Wilson, a lonely, neurotic, and hilariously honest middle-aged misanthrope, reunites with his estranged wife and gets a shot at happiness when he learns he has a teenage daughter he has never met. In his uniquely outrageous and slightly twisted way, he sets out to connect with her.
Principal cast: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer, Cheryl Hines
SURPRISE FILM! – For the first time this year the Sundance Film Festival: London will feature a surprise film. We can’t say too much, but it was a favourite among audiences in Utah, and with just one screening this will be among the hottest of the hot tickets. The title will be revealed only when the opening credits roll. Don’t miss out.
SHORT FILM PROGRAM
2017 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour – A 95-minute theatrical program of seven short films selected from this year’s Festival, which over the course of its more than 30-year history has been widely considered the premier showcase for short films and the launch pad for many now-prominent independent filmmakers. Including fiction, documentary and animation from around the world, the 2017 program gives a taste to what the Festival offers. From laugh-out-loud fun to contemplative thoughts about the world we live in, audiences will encounter a variety of emotions and exciting filmmaking.
5 Films About Technology (Director/Screenwriter: Peter Huang) – Take a satirical look at the dumber side of technology.
And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye (Director/Screenwriter: Francisca Alegria) – Emeteria is visited by the ghost of her patrón, Teodoro. She believes he has come to take her to the afterlife—but he has more devastating news.
Winner of the Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction
Come Swim (Director/Screenwriter: Kristen Stewart) – This is a diptych of one man’s day, half impressionist and half realist portraits.
Lucia, Before And After (Director/Screenwriter: Anu Valia) – After traveling 200 miles, a young woman waits out Texas’s state-mandated 24-hour waiting period before her abortion can proceed.
Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction
Night Shift (Director/Screenwriter: Marshall Tyler) – Get a glimpse into a day in the life of a bathroom attendant in a Los Angeles nightclub.
Pussy (Director/Screenwriter: Renata Gasiorowska) – Alone at home one evening, a young girl decides to have a solo pleasure session—but not everything goes according to plan.
Ten Meter Tower (Co-Directors: Maximilien Van Aertryck, Axel Danielson) – People who have never been up a 10-meter diving tower must choose whether to jump or climb down in this entertaining study of people in a vulnerable position.
UK Shorts – A showcase of visionary new shorts from the UK. A wild ride through fiction, documentary and animation, discovering some of the exciting new filmmaking talent in the country.
Dawn of the Deaf (Director/Screenwriter: Rob Savage) – When a strange sound wipes out the hearing population, a small group of deaf people must band together to survive.
Dear Mr. Shakespeare (Director: Shola Amoo, Screenwriter: Phoebe Boswell) – An exploration of Shakespeare’s intentions when writing Othello explores the play’s racial themes in historical and contemporary settings, and draws wider parallels between immigration and blackness in the UK today.
Fish Story (Director/Screenwriter: Charlie Lyne) – Behind a fishy tale lies this search for the truth.
In the Hills (Director/Screenwriter: Hamid Ahmadi) – Shahram is a young immigrant who lives in the idyllic countryside of the Cotswolds in England. To integrate into the new society, he chooses a rather radical approach.
Mother (Director/Screenwriter: Leo Leigh) – In the aftermath of his mother’s death, Edwin reaches out to his extended family for support.
Robot & Scarecrow (Director: Kibwe Tavares, Screenwriters: Kibwe Tavares and Ursula Rani Sarma) – A fairy tale set against the backdrop of a heady summer music festival, where a robot and a scarecrow meet and fall in love.
Tough (Director: Jennifer Zheng) – New light is shed on childhood cultural misunderstandings when a Chinese mother and her British-born daughter speak as adults for the first time.
Some things can only be understood with maturity.
White Riot: London (Director: Rubika Shah, Screenwriters: Ed Gibbs, Rubika Shah) – 1977, immigration divides Britain. What happens when a punk fanzine challenges the status quo?
Sundance Film Festival: London Docs Panel – On Collaboration: Documentary Practices and Process
The Sundance Film Festival sets the bar extremely high for its documentary presentations, providing a showcase for some of the most diverse, cutting-edge and challenging works while reflecting something of a state of the art for this exciting and rapidly evolving medium. Our Sundance Film Festival: London selections Chasing Coral, Dina and Icarus are richly different films but are united in their presentation of hard-hitting issues in a fresh and open fashion. This panel, featuring directors from those films and British artist and filmmaker Jeanie Finlay, will ask the filmmakers to detail their working practices and the role of collaboration in their work whilst exploring themes of diversity, accessibility and progress in documentary.
Panelists to include: Alice Tynan -EMEA Corporate Marketing Manager at Dropbox (Moderator); Jeff Orlowski – Director of Chasing Coral; Bryan Fogel – Director of Icarus; Jeanie Finlay – Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, The Great Hip Hop Hoax.
INDEPENDENT FILM TRUMPS REALITY – re-evaluating films in the current political climate and where filmmaking will go from here…
This year’s Sundance Film Festival straddled one of the most important shifts in modern American and world history, with the Festival kicking off under an Obama presidency and closing under President Trump. Understandably, Trump talk was unavoidable in Park City and whilst the films screening were developed and made before the election, many have gained a new level of currency in the age of Trump.
Panelists: John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival; Miguel Arteta, Director of Beatriz at Dinner; Jeff Orlowski, Director of Chasing Coral; Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, Directors of Bushwick; Wendy Mitchell, Film Programme Manager, British Council and Contributing Editor, Screen International.
Art vs. Stepping Stone – An Argument: Sundance Meets London
Presented in association with LSFF (London Short Film Festival)
Sundance and LSFF host a short filmmaker discussion about straddling the worlds of the auteur and the commercial. Are shorts simply a stepping stone or do they sustain a filmmaker throughout a career? With a focus on two women filmmakers, each one working in those potentially opposing areas, we hope for a heated debate and a fascinating discussion.
Hosted by Mike Plante (Sundance) and Philip Ilson (London Short Film Festival & BFI London Film Festival).
I Get Overwhelmed: From Saints to Ghosts, David Lowery in Conversation
Presented in association with Empire Magazine
Since his striking, Malick-infused 2013 Sundance Film Festival debut Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Wisconsin-born filmmaker David Lowery has become something of a wunderkind of the U.S. filmmaking scene. His big-budget Disney production Pete’s Dragon (2016) along with this year’s Sundance selection A Ghost Story have both been greeted with rapturous reviews, praising the director’s ability to tackle complex human emotions and diverse genres with a real sense of grace and romanticism. His editing work on films like Shane Carruth’s Upstream Colour (2013) and writing on acclaimed indie The Yellow Birds (2017) also demonstrate a talent that is at once multi-faceted and poised with a singular, unique vision. We screen both Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and A Ghost Story this year and welcome David for a career interview which will explore his meteoric rise to filmmaking stardom.
This “In Conversation” event will be accompanied by a special screening of:
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints – David Lowery burst onto the scene in 2013 with this rapturous, Malick-infused period piece about two lovers separated by a run-in with the law.