Top image: Still, ‘A Ghost Story’ dir. David Lowery
An offshoot of the famous Utah-based film festival, Sundance Film Festival: London operates as a platform in which the most riveting stories from emerging and established independent filmmakers are shared on the big screen. This week, the festival once again ups sticks from Park City, Utah to London for a four-day indie spectacular at Picturehouse Central offering up a perfect summer programme consisting of short films, feature films and conversations.
The international premiere of Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz at Dinner will open the festival, with the UK premiere of David Lowery’s critically acclaimed A Ghost Story closing the four-day weekend. And this year viewers are in for a real treat, as for the first time ever there will be a ‘surprise film’ which will be based on an audience hit from the festival. Also introduced this year is the Audience Favourite award for 2017 where festivalgoers will get the chance to vote for their favourite features. With a jam-packed schedule it’s time to dim the lights and hit the pick ‘n’ mix stands as we round up some of the must-see films and events.
‘Beatriz at Dinner’ dir. Miguel Areta
Directed by Miguel Areta, Beatriz at Dinner sees Salma Hayek take the title role as an immigrant who leaves her deprived roots in Mexico to develop her career as a health practitioner. When her car breaks down she finds herself at the dinner party of Cathy and Grant, a wealthy white couple whose daughter Beatriz cared for throughout her chemotherapy. Here she meets the immensely wealthy and entitled Doug Strutt. As Beatriz and Doug’s worlds collide they start to realise their differing views.
Dubbed by Variety as “the first dramatic comedy that’s an explicit — and provocative — allegory of the Age of Trump” due to the race and class themes, it’s bound to be an interesting and thought provoking watch. (Watch out for Chloë Sevigny in a supporting role.)
‘A Ghost Story’ dir. David Lowery
In this chilling and haunting tale, C and M (you never actually learn their real names) are madly in love, however when C dies in a car crash outside their home, all that’s left of him is his ghost.
As he painfully watches his wife move on, he makes his presence known, haunting the house which eventually forces M to move out. He looks on through the many more occupants of the property and we’re transported from the past to the future throughout the 90 minutes of this stirring film.
Director and screenwriter David Lowery creates many moments which invite the viewer to sit in a somewhat uncomfortable silence, pondering the multiple meanings behind the scenes. Although not a horror film as such, it’s one that will definitely haunt your mind for some hours after. And for an in-depth view into Lowery’s work be sure to catch him in an exclusive interview during Sundance where he will be speaking about his rise to filmmaking success.
‘Bitch’ dir. Marianna Palka
In a world where gender stereotypes are often challenged, Bitch is a timely film and one that challenges pretences in the best way; through intelligent filmmaking and a wickedly dark sense of humour.
Directed by Marianna Palka, who is also responsible for the witty yet impactful screenplay, the film follows the story of a housewife who is bored and fed up with the pressures of her life. Having decided she’s had enough, she assumes the psych of a vicious dog (as you do). Covered in the scent of her own shit and positioned on all fours, her new identity throws that of her self-important, philandering husband. Bitch is a bizarre yet feminist comedy that has a much deeper significance in society that just a general laugh.
‘Lucia, before and after’ dir. Anu Valia
On President Trump’s first day in the Oval Office, a photograph went viral showing a group of men standing around a desk as the President signed a ban on federal money going to international groups that perform or provide information on abortions.
Director and Screenwriter Anu Valia’s latest project, Lucia, Before and After, taps the feelings expressed in opposition to this shocking image. Exploring the ever so prominent and persisting views of a Republican America, this short film follows a young girl from Texas who has to travel over 200 miles to proceed with her desired abortion. She’s unapologetic about her life-changing decision but still has to wait out Texas’ 24-hour state-mandated waiting period before she the abortion can take place.
The state of Texas has some of the tightest regulations when it comes to pro-choice, in fact, just last week the State House voted 96 to 47 on legislation that bans a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure, known as dilation and evacuation. This is expected to be challenged by abortion rights groups and the Supreme Court.
Lucia, Before and After is an incredibly topical and insightful glance into a frustrating and restrained ideology which effects so many women.
‘Dear Mr Shakespeare’ dir. Shola Amoo
With screenplay by Phoebe Boswell and direction by Shola Amoo, this unconventional glimpse into Shakespeare’s intentions when writing the legendary Othello looks at racial themes in both modern and historical settings.
Made as part of the 2016 Shakespeare Lives project and filmed on location in the very heart of the UK, this British short film draws similarities to immigration and racial discrimination which is still unfortunately existent in England. Director Amoo told indiwire.com “For me, [Boswell’s] writing was asking all the right questions, touching thematically on otherness, blackness and immigration in a historical and contemporary context.”
Sundance London runs from 1st – 4th June, see the full programme here.