Sundance: Inspiring Narratives

The Sundance Film Festival: London returns to Picturehouse Central this weekend, running until 4 June. The festival presents 14 feature films direct from this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, selected for the London edition by the Sundance Institute programming team in collaboration with Picturehouse. The festival opened with the International premiere of Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz at Dinner on Thursday, and will close four days on Sunday with the premiere of David Lowery’s critically acclaimed A Ghost Story, starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.

Continuing with its focus on presenting new work by emerging and established independent filmmakers, the 2017 edition will features a short film programme with 15 shorts, including a strand dedicated to new UK shorts. The films collectively received seven awards when they premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, including the Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic (Crown Heights) and Audience Award: U.S. Documentary (Chasing Coral).

The Feature Film programme includes international premieres of Beatriz at Dinner, directed by Miguel Arteta: 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. The Big Sick, directed by Michael Showalter, is 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.

The Feature Film programme includes European / UK premieres of Icarus, in which director 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. The Incredible Jessica James directed by Jim Strouse follows the story of Jessica James, an aspiring NYC playwright, who 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.

The Short Film section provides two wide-ranging collections of new short films from the UK and around the world. Our top films include Come Swim (Director/Screenwriter: Kristen Stewart), a diptych of one man’s day, half impressionist and half realist portraits; Night Shift (Director/Screenwriter: Marshall Tyler), a glimpse into a day in the life of a bathroom attendant in a Los Angeles nightclub; and In the Hills (Director/Screenwriter: Hamid Ahmadi) sees Shahram, a young immigrant who chooses a radical approach to integrating into the idyllic countryside of the Cotswolds.

Sundance Film Festival: London, until 4 June, PictureHouse Central, London.

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1. Ghost Story, still, 2017.