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Sundance London 2019: Late Night to open event as line-up confirmed

Late Night

Feature by Jack Foley

THE European premiere of Late Night, written by and starring Mindy Kaling alongside Emma Thompson, will open the Sundance Film Festival: London 2019.

Taking place from May 30 to June 2, 2019, at Picturehouse Central, the festival will close four days later with the UK premiere of Penny Lane’s Hail Satan?

General ticket sales open at 12pm on Tuesday, April 23, with priority booking for Picturehouse Members opening at 12pm on Friday, April 19.

You can become a Picturehouse member now here and you can purchase your tickets from today with a Sundance Festival pass. Buy yours now here.

Commenting on this year’s London selection, 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, added: “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.”

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 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 full programme is as follows…


After the Wedding / U.S.A. (Director/Screenwriter: Bart Freundlich) – Seeking funds for her orphanage in India, Isabelle travels to New York to meet Theresa, a wealthy benefactor. An invitation to attend a wedding ignites a series of events in which the past collides with the present while mysteries unravel. Based on the Academy Award®-nominated film by Susanne Bier.

Principal cast: Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup, Abby Quinn

European premiere

Animals / United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia (Director: Sophie Hyde, Screenwriter: Emma Jane Unsworth) – After a decade of partying, Laura and Tyler’s friendship is strained by Laura’s new love and her focus on her novel. A snapshot of a modern woman with competing desires, at once a celebration of female friendship and an examination of the choices we make when facing a crossroads.

Principal cast: Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat

European premiere. Presented in Association with Time Out

Apollo 11 / U.S.A. (Director: Todd Douglas Miller) – A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission.

UK premiere

Winner – U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing

Ask Dr. Ruth / U.S.A. (Director: Ryan White) – A documentary portrait chronicling the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America’s most famous sex therapist. As her 90th birthday approaches, Dr. Ruth revisits her painful past and her career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.

European premiere

The Brink / U.S.A. (Director: Alison Klayman) – Now unconstrained by an official White House post, Steve Bannon is free to peddle influence as a perceived kingmaker with a direct line to the President. After anointing himself leader of the “populist movement,” he travels around the U.S. and the world spreading his hard-line anti-immigration message.

UK premiere

Corporate Animals / U.S.A. (Director: Patrick Brice, Screenwriter: Sam Bain) – Disaster strikes when the egotistical CEO of an edible cutlery company leads her long-suffering staff on a corporate team-building trip in New Mexico. Trapped underground, this mismatched and disgruntled group must pull together to survive.

Principal cast: Demi Moore, Ed Helms, Jessica Williams, Karan Soni

European premiere

The Death of Dick Long / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Scheinert, Screenwriter: Billy Chew) – Dick died last night, and Zeke and Earl don’t want anybody finding out how. That’s too bad though, cause news travels fast in small-town Alabama.

Principal cast: Michael Abbott Jr., Virginia Newcomb, Andre Hyland, Sarah Baker, Jess Weixler

European premiere

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. Billi struggles with her family’s decision to keep grandma in the dark about her own illness as they all stage an impromptu wedding to see grandma one last time.

Principal cast: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Zhao Shuzhen, Lu Hong, Jiang Yongbo

UK premiere

Hail Satan? / U.S.A. (Director: Penny Lane) – A look at the intersection of religion and activism, tracing the rise of The Satanic Temple: only six years old and already one of the most controversial religious movements in American history. The Temple is calling for a Satanic revolution to save the nation’s soul. But are they for real?

UK premiere

The Last Tree / United Kingdom (Director/Screenwriter: Shola Amoo) – Femi is a British boy of Nigerian heritage who, after a happy childhood in rural Lincolnshire, moves to inner London to live with his mum. Struggling with the unfamiliar culture and values of his new environment, teenage Femi has to figure out which path to adulthood he wants to take.

Principal cast: Sam Adewunmi, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Denise Black, Tai Golding, Nicholas Pinnock

European premiere

Late Night / U.S.A. (Director: Nisha Ganatra, Screenwriter: Mindy Kaling) – Legendary late-night talk show host’s world is turned upside down when she hires her only female staff writer. Originally intended to smooth over diversity concerns, her decision has unexpectedly hilarious consequences as the two women separated by culture and generation are united by their love of a biting punchline.

Principal cast: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Paul Walter Hauser, Reid Scott, Amy Ryan

European premiere

The Nightingale / Australia (Director/Screenwriter: Jennifer Kent) – 1825. Clare, a young Irish convictwoman, chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of Aboriginal tracker Billy, who is marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.

Principal cast: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Ewen Leslie

UK premiere

SURPRISE FILM – Following on from the last two Surprise Films, Bart Layton’s crime flick American Animals and the hit rap story Patti Cake$, Sundance Film Festival: London will again feature an unannounced screening. Details will only be revealed as the opening credits roll. With just one screening, this will be one of the festival’s hottest tickets.


Two wide-ranging collections of new short films from the UK and around the world.

2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour – A 96-minute theatrical program of seven short films selected from this year’s Festival, widely considered the premier showcase for short films and the launchpad for many now-prominent independent filmmakers for more than 30 years. Including fiction, documentary and animation from around the world, the 2019 program offers new audiences a taste of what the Festival offers, from sharply-written comedy and drama to edgy genre and an intimate family saga.

Brotherhood / Canada, Tunisia, Qatar, Sweden (Director/Screenwriter: Meryam Joobeur) – When a hardened Tunisian shepherd’s son returns home after a long journey with a new wife, tension rises between father and son.

Crude Oil / U.S.A. (Director/Screenwriter: Christopher Good) – Jenny breaks free from a toxic friendship and learns to harness her magical, useless superpower.

Fast Horse/ Canada (Director/Screenwriter: Alexandra Lazarowich) – The Blackfoot bareback horse-racing tradition returns in the astonishingly dangerous Indian Relay. Siksika horseman Allison Red Crow struggles with second-hand horses and a new jockey on his way to challenge the best riders in the Blackfoot Confederacy.

Winner – Short Film Special Jury Award for Directing

The Minors / U.S.A. (Director/Screenwriter: Robert Machoian) – A slice of life about a grandpa and his grandsons, the future and the past.

Winner – Short Film Special Jury Award for Directing

Muteum / Estonia, Hong Kong (Director/Screenwriter: Äggie Pak Yee Lee) – In an art museum, we learn — from outer to inner, from deep to its deepest, seriously and sincerely.

Sometimes, i think about dying / U.S.A. (Director: Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Screenwriters: Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Katy Wright-Mead, Kevin Armento) – Fran is thinking about dying, but a man in the office might want to date her.

Suicide By Sunlight / U.S.A. (Director: Nikyatu Jusu, Screenwriters: Nikyatu Jusu, R. Shanea Williams) – Valentina, a day-walking Black vampire protected from the sun by her melanin, is forced to restrain her bloodlust to regain custody of her estranged daughters.

UK Short Film Programme

A selection of new shorts with diverse styles and unique stories, including animation, drama, romance, documentary and comedy, showcasing the vibrant talent creating short films in the UK today.

Alan the Infinite / United Kingdom (Directors/Screenwriters: Mikey Please and Dan Ojari) – Today, is the first day of the rest of your internship. Keen to prove himself and secure a Job for Life, Alan discovers there is more to Lamin’8 than sharp ties and flashy printers.

The Field / France, United Kingdom, India (Director/Screenwriter: Sandhya Suri) – A poor agricultural laborer leads a double life in the village’s last remaining cornfield. But the harvest is approaching.

Life in Miniature / United Kingdom (Director/Screenwriter: Ellen Evans) – A celebration of one woman’s mission to document the everyday as she carves a place for herself in the precious world of miniatures.

Reneepoptosis / U.S.A., Japan (Director/Screenwriter: Renee Zhan) – Three Renees go on a quest to find God, who is also Renee. As they traverse the mountains and valleys of Renee, they discover all the great joys, sorrows, and mysteries of being Renee.

Winner – Short Film Jury Award: Animation

To Know Him / United Kingdom (Director/Screenwriter: Ted Evans) – When a tragic accident leaves Sarah grieving for her deaf partner Rob, she is forced to track down and engage with his estranged hearing father. To lay the man she loves to rest, Sarah must overcome a barrier far greater than language.

Special events

Discussions with renowned guest speakers providing incredible insights into the filmmaking process.

Embracing Risk: Be Bold, Be Brave

Coinciding with the festival’s emphasis on risking independence, join leading documentary and narrative filmmakers for a discussion across genres about the art and necessity of risk-taking in their work, the ways in which they’ve eschewed conventions, and the advantages of leaving comfort behind in order to tackle urgent and daring stories.

Panellists: Stephen Kijak (Director, We Are X); Alison Klayman (Director, The Brink); Marie Therese Guirgis (Producer, The Brink); Daniel Scheinert (Director, The Death of Dick Long); others to be announced.

Shorts to Features: A Two-Way Street

Join Sundance Senior Programmer Mike Plante in conversation with UK filmmakers about the process of moving into feature filmmaking after working on shorts, the differences in craft with each medium, and the ways in which one has informed the other.

Panellists: Shola Amoo (Director/Screenwriter, The Last Tree); William Oldroyd (Director, Lady Macbeth).

Comedy and Collaboration

Join leading directors and writers as they share and discuss their process of crafting comedy and keeping their material fresh and provocative. Director Patrick Brice, who was first at Sundance with the uproarious The Overnight, and writer Sam Bain, co-creator of the BAFTA award-winning television sitcom Peep Show, discuss their collaboration on their new film, Corporate Animals, a sharp dark comedy that satirises and pushes office culture to its unexpected, side-splitting limits.

Panellists: Sam Bain (Screenwriter, Corporate Animals); Patrick Brice (Director, Corporate Animals).

Creative Risk – It Takes A Village…

It takes a village to make an independent film, and the freedom that risk-taking unlocks can be found across disciplines in every stage of the creative process, and one that confident filmmakers embrace. Artists and key contributors to some of the films in our line-up will participate in an open conversation about how risk-taking and pushing limits has influenced their work and outlook in their respective crafts.

Panellists: Shaheen Baig (Casting Director, Animals, The Last Tree); Todd Douglas Miller (Director, Apollo 11); Mdhamiri Á Nkemi (Editor, The Last Tree); Stil Williams (Cinematographer, The Last Tree); Renee Zhan (Director/Screenwriter, Reneepoptosis); others to be announced.

Women and Independence

As streaming platforms and digital viewership continue to reshape the way we experience films and the industry looks towards expanding inclusivity through a new wave of voices, what does the future of independent film look like for women from across the industry now, both on and off screen?

What does it mean to be independent in this changing media landscape? Join us for an engrossing conversation with a cross-section of industry and artists who will unpack what independence has come to mean to them, and the ways in which we can catalyse meaningful change.

Vital UK industry players will join Sundance Director of Programming Kim Yutani, novelist and critic Kate Muir and festival filmmaker Sophie Hyde (Animals) alongside other special guests.

Panellists: Sophie Hyde (Director, Animals); Kate Muir (Writer, activist for Time’s Up UK and Birds’ Eye View); Kim Yutani (Director of Programming, Sundance Film Festival); others to be announced.

Special event – Sundance Ignite programme

Sundance Ignite: London Sundance Ignite continues its partnership with Adobe with a special event at Sundance Film Festival: London for emerging filmmakers ages 18-25.

The all-day programme takes place at Picturehouse Central on May 31 and includes free screenings, workshops and meet-and-greet opportunities with UK-based industry members. For more information, please go to

Triple Threat

In keeping with the festival’s diverse selection of women on screen who don’t automatically conform to the restrictive model of ‘strong female heroine’, this year’s repertory strand presents three films from past editions of the Sundance Film Festival in Utah that honour a tradition of complexity and nuance in representation.

52 Tuesdays / Australia, 2013 (Director: Sophie Hyde, Screenwriter: Matthew Cormack) – In Animals, director Sophie Hyde’s moving and conceptually daring debut feature, a young woman comes of age messily in Adelaide against the backdrop of her mother’s gender transition.

Winner – World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at Sundance 2014.

Animal Kingdom / Australia, 2010 (Director/Screenwriter: David Michôd) – David Michôd’s striking debut, a moody Aussie crime thriller, features an Oscar-nominated performance from Jacki Weaver as the monstrous matriarch of a crime family.

Read our review l David Michod interview l Jacki Weaver interview

Winner – World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic at Sundance 2010.

Precious / U.S.A., 2009 (Director: Lee Daniels, Screenwriter: Geoffrey Fletcher) – Lee Daniels’ blistering first feature stars Gabourey Sidibe as a mixed-up teen who finds a way out of drudgery and abuse.

Read our review

Winner – Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Dramatic, Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic and Special Jury Prize for Acting (Mo’Nique) at Sundance 2009

Find out more here