Sundance London Announces 2019 Programme

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Sundance Institute and Picturehouse announced today the programme of feature films, short films and panel discussions for the Sundance Film Festival: London 2019, taking place 30 May – 2 June at Picturehouse Central, presented in association with Adobe. General ticket sales open at 12.00pm on Tuesday 23 April, with priority booking for Picturehouse Members opening at 12.00pm on Friday 19 April.

The festival will present 12 feature films from this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, USA, selected for London by the Sundance Institute programming team in collaboration with Picturehouse. The festival will open with the European premiere of Late Night (Nisha Ganatra), written by and starring Mindy Kaling alongside Emma Thompson. The festival will close four days later with the UK premiere of Penny Lane’s Hail Satan?.

Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, said: “Society relies on storytellers. The choices they make, and the risks they take, define our collective experience. The slate at this year’s Sundance Film Festival: London is full of storytellers who offer challenges, questions and entertainment. In telling their stories, they make difficult decisions in the pursuit of truth and art; culture reaps the reward.”

John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, said: “These films and artists tell the truth: whether documentaries that illuminate hidden histories or fiction features that spotlight diverse, human experiences. We’re thrilled to bring these layered, intense and authentic stories to the Sundance Film Festival: London.”

Clare Binns, Joint Managing Director Picturehouse Cinemas, added: “We are delighted to host our fourth Sundance Film Festival: London at Picturehouse Central, showcasing the finest independent cinema direct from Sundance Film Festival, Utah. Earlier this year, the Sundance festival was home to the world’s boldest, most boundary-pushing filmmaking. Gathering work under the rallying cry of ‘Risk Independence’, the festival provided a stage for those who dare, explore and venture beyond comfort and convention.  Sundance Film Festival: London 2019 will equally honour risk-takers by highlighting independent films direct from Park City that question conformity and challenge the status quo.”

The Farewell / U.S.A., China (Director/Screenwriter: Lulu Wang) – A headstrong Chinese-American woman returns to China when her beloved grandmother is given a terminal diagnosis.

In 2018, the London festival asked “#WhatNext?” in response to ongoing inequality in the film industry and presented a line-up of films brimming with female-driven stories. By continuing to champion underrepresented voices and empower brave artists, this year’s Sundance London will showcase innovative cinema and encourage filmmakers, audiences and the wider British film community to embrace everything that the provocation ‘Risk Independence’ entails. The festival honours its commitment to gender parity by featuring an equal number of male and female directors in this year’s feature film selection, allowing a range of British, Australian and American filmmakers to tell their authentic stories.

Alongside the opening and closing night films, the festival will present a selection of fearless filmmaking: The Nightingale, a striking revenge drama starring Aisling Franciosi and Sam Claflin, marks Jennifer Kent’s anticipated follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut, The Babadook; Time Out gala film, Animals (dir. Sophie Hyde, whose debut 52 Tuesdays won the Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic at Sundance 2014 and features in this year’s repertory strand) is an unpredictable tale of female friendship starring Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat; and Bart Freundlich’s After the Wedding, a female-driven reimagining of Susanne Bier’s Academy Award®-nominated Danish film, features Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams in leading roles. In addition, breakout American star Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians; Ocean’s 8) stars in Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, and Daniel Scheinert, co-winner of the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival for Swiss Army Man, directs The Death of Dick Long.

As in previous years, the London edition will support British talent with the return of local filmmaker Shola Amoo (A Moving Image), whose short film Dear Mr Shakespeare played at the 2017 festival. Amoo’s latest feature, The Last Tree, an unconventional coming-of-age story of a British-Nigerian youth, will receive its European premiere over the festival weekend. In addition, British writer Sam Bain (Peep Show, Four Lions) writes Corporate Animals, directed by Patrick Brice (Creep) and starring Demi Moore and Ed Helms.

Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore appear in After The Wedding by Bart Freundlich.

Together with closing night film Hail Satan?, the festival’s documentary features share equally bold and daring perspectives: The Brink, directed by Alison Klayman (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, winner Special Jury Prize – Documentary at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival) follows former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon as he expands his far-right campaigning from the United States across the globe, and Ask Dr. Ruth, directed by Ryan White (The Case Against 8, winner of the U.S. Documentary Directing Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and part of the Sundance London 2014 programme), is a portrait of one of America’s most famous sex therapists. Completing the line-up is Apollo 11, directed by Todd Douglas Miller and winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing at this year’s festival in Utah, a never-seen-before immersive portrayal of the 1969 Moon landings.

Alongside the inspiring film selection, the festival will also highlight the work of industry pioneers with a series of panel discussions, Q&As and special guest appearances. As well as providing audiences invaluable insight into the filmmaking process, this year’s special events programme will focus on breaking boundaries and defying expectations, as our speakers discuss what risk-taking means to them.

The 2019 festival continues the Sundance tradition of supporting original work from both emerging and established independent filmmakers through two short film programmes, including a branch dedicated to UK productions.

In an exclusive repertory strand, ‘Triple Threat’, the festival will present three films from the Sundance archive. Complementing the number of complex, contradictory and compelling female characters who appear in the festival’s feature selection are renowned titles from previous Sundance Film Festivals: 52 Tuesdays (2013), Sophie Hyde’s debut feature in which a young woman complicatedly comes of age against the backdrop of her mother’s gender transition; David Michôd’s iconic Australian crime thriller Animal Kingdom (2010), featuring Jacki Weaver as the ruthless matriarch of a crime family ready to go to any lengths to protect her empire; and Lee Daniels’ Oscar-winning debut Precious (2009), starring Gabourey Sidibe as a young woman seemingly trapped by her surroundings who discovers a way out of a life of poverty and abuse on her own terms.

Festivalgoers will have a special chance to catch an unannounced title with the festival’s third Surprise Film – last year’s choice was Bart Layton’s American Animals.

Following popular wins for Bo Burnham’s critically acclaimed Eighth Grade and the Academy Award®-winning Icarus, audiences will again have the opportunity to cast votes after screenings, with the Audience Favourite award being announced at the close of the festival.

More information will be available at picturehouses.com/sundance. Join the conversation on social media with #sundancelondon.

Sundance Film Festival: London 2019 is supported by: Presenting Partner – Adobe, Lead Partner – Honda; Beer Partner – Camden Town Brewery; Spirits Partner – Jack Daniels; Event Partners – SundanceTV and Utah Office of Tourism; Media Partners – Time Out and the London Evening Standard ; Hotel Partner – The May Fair Hotel; Official Provider – Picturehouse Central.

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