Sundance Film Festival London: The films, the tickets and everything you need to know

·6-min read
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Nick Wall)
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Nick Wall)

Why have only one Sundance Festival, when you can have a second one in London?

That’s right: one of the biggest film festivals in the world is returning to the UK this week, a boutique version of its big sister festival in Utah. With some of the buzziest films on display, as well as a host of talks with up-and-coming directors, podcasts and panel discussions to look forward to, it’s not something to miss.

But what do you need to look out for? Here’s our potted guide to the programme of movies – and how to see them.

What is Sundance London?

The sister event to the original Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the London festival will present twelve specially-selected feature films curated from the main festival programme for UK audiences to enjoy.

These will be screened between June 9-12 at Picturehouse Central cinema in Central London.

Feature films aren’t everything though, and Sundance London has a reputation for showing some of the best new documentaries, alongside a selection of short films from around the UK and the world.

What will I be able to see?

The twelve main films showing at the festival are:

A Love Song

 (Courtesy of Sundance Institute / photo by Alfonso Herrera Salcedo)
(Courtesy of Sundance Institute / photo by Alfonso Herrera Salcedo)

This is the UK premiere of A Love Song, which follows the story of two childhood sweethearts, both now widowed, who share a night by a lake in the mountains.

Brian and Charles

This film by director Jim Archer will be closing out the festival. It follows luckless inventor Brian, who invents an artificially intelligent robot made from odds and ends to keep him company. Starring David Earl, Chris Hayward, and Louise Brealey.

Fire of Love

This documentary won the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award at the original Sundance, and when you see the amazing visuals, it’s not hard to see why.

Made by National Geographic, the film tells the story of French scientists Katia and Maurice Krafft, whose love of recording volcanoes ultimately led to their demise.

Free Chol Soo Lee

 (Courtesy of Sundance Institute)
(Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

A fascinating documentary which follows the story of 20-year-old Korean immigrant Chol Soo Lee, who was racially profiled and convicted of a gang-related murder in 1970s San Francisco. After investigative journalist K.W. Lee took an interest in the case, it sparked a massive social justice movement.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

The festival’s opener is a celebration of the acting powerhouse that is Emma Thompson. This film follows Nancy, a fifty-something teacher who hires Irish sex worker Leo to tick certain experiences off her bucket list. However, as the weeks go on, the two unexpectedly find themselves developing a bond.

Hatching

Finnish horror film Hatching is sure to keep you up at night. When 12-year-old Tinja finds a wounded bird in the woods, she brings it home and keeps it in her bed until it hatches. However, her image-obsessed mother refuses to see the reality: that the creature her daughter is rearing is a living nightmare.

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul

 (Courtesy of Sundance Institute)
(Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Starring the uniformly excellent Regina Hall as Southern Baptist “first lady” Trinitie Childs, this film explores the aftermath of a scandal involving her husband, Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown). With the church they manage forced to close temporarily, the pair must rebuild their congregation and make a comeback like no other to save their marriage - and their income.

The Princess

Yet another retelling of Princess Diana’s story, this one uses contemporary archive footage to create a narrative of the princess’s life and tragic death, it examines how the monarchy as we know it was shaped by Diana - and how the public attitude to the royal family has changed in the years since she became part of it.

Resurrection

Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth star in this psychological horror-thriller. Hall plays Margaret, a woman who is successful, capable and in control of her life. Soon, her daughter will be going to university - but then Margaret sees David, and he brings with him all the trauma of her past. Does he have bad intentions? Is it all in her head? Nothing is certain in this twisting, turning film.

Sharp Stick

 (Sharp Stick / Courtesy of Sundance Institute)
(Sharp Stick / Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

The long-awaited follow-up to Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture. Sarah Jo is a naive 26 year old living on the fringes of Hollywood who begins an affair with her older employer, sparking an exploration of sexuality, power and loss.

Watcher

This psychological thriller is set in Romania, where a young woman moves into a new apartment with her fiancé. However, she quickly becomes convinced that she is being watched by somebody in the building across the street. When another woman is found murdered in the same apartment block, things begin to spiral.

We Met In Virtual Reality

 (We Met in Virtual Reality/ Courtesy of the Sundance Institute)
(We Met in Virtual Reality/ Courtesy of the Sundance Institute)

What does the future of the internet look like? The answer is: something like this. Filmed inside the world of VR, this documentary explores the power of a burgeoning technology, and its capability to connect humans across vast distances.

… and the Surprise Film

Previous Sundance London festivals have always featured one surprise screening, and this year is no different. Previous films have been Phyllida Lloyd’s Herself, Paul Briganti’s Greener Grass and crime film American Animals, by Bart Layton. There’s just one opportunity to catch whatever the secret screening might be, making it one of the festival’s hottest tickets.

What else is on?

If you’re a real film fan, then Sundance will also be incorporating a series of podcast recordings into its schedule this year.

Girls on Film will discuss the role of female filmmakers and critics with a series of celebrity guests; Evolution of Horror is the UK’s number one horror podcast and 90 Minutes or Less Film Fest celebrates shorter films and will feature an interview with director Max Walker-Silverman.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Nick Wall)
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Nick Wall)

Other special talks include a documentary-focused panel event on How To Make Archive Come Alive For Contemporary Audiences, an interview with legendary independent producer Christine Vachon, and two Q&As for film Good Luck to You, Leo Grande – which will feature Emma Thompson and director Sophie Hyde.

And for those not based in London, then the festival will also be screening three films at twenty-five cinemas around the UK, alongside a series of recorded filmmaker Q&As: these are A Love Song, Free Chol Soo Lee and Good Luck To You, Leo Grande.

How can I get tickets?

Screening tickets are now on sale, with Picturehouse Members getting priority booking.

Tickets to individual events will set adults back £17.20, with members getting charged £14.20.

If you’d rather get a pass, then a Festival pass lite (which includes five festival tickets) costs £75, and a Festival pass (which comes with ten) will cost £130.

Find out more at picturehouses.com/sundance

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