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Sundance London unveils 2016 line-up

Other People

Preview by Jack Foley

CHRIS Kelly’s Other People (pictured) and Todd Solondz’s Wiener-Dog are just two of the films that will be showing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival: London (2016), taking place from June 2 to 5, 2016.

The former, starring Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon, won widespread acclaim at Sundance earlier this year for its tale of a struggling comedy writer, fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, who moves to Sacramento to help his sick mother.

Living with his conservative father and younger sisters, David feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother worsens, he tries to convince everyone (including himself) he’s ‘doing okay’.

Wiener-Dog, on the other hand, is Soldondz’s controversial follow-up to past works such as Happiness, which tells several stories featuring people who find their life inspired or changed by one particular dachshund, who seems to be spreading comfort and joy.

This year’s festival will take place at a new host venue: Picturehouse Central, in the heart of the West End.

Festival passes will be available at sundance.org/London on Thursday, May 5 and individual tickets will be on sale from 9am GMT on Monday, May 9, with priority booking for Picturehouse members opening on Friday, May 6.

The festival will present 11 UK and International feature film premieres direct from this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, U.S.A., selected by the Sundance Institute programming team in collaboration with Picturehouse.

Continuing the focus of the three previous London editions on presenting new work by emerging and established independent filmmakers, the 2016 festival will also include a short film programme with 15 shorts, including a strand dedicated to UK shorts screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

The films collectively received 10 awards when they premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

In addition to celebrating the best new independent films, the feature film line-up includes “Sundance Film Festival: Road to Stardom,” a programme showcasing notable films discovered by the Sundance Film Festival over the course of its three-decade history and whose stars and filmmakers have since achieved global recognition.

Rounding off the programme are four special events, all offering an exclusive insight into the filmmaking process: Oscar-winning producer and Industry veteran James Schamus, whose feature directorial debut Indignation screens in the main film programme, will discuss the changing face of independent film; the Sundance Film Festival partners with the BFI to discuss “Diversity as an Ethos” with panellists including Sundance alumnus Effie Brown (Producer of Dear White People); and two further events, the Short Film Masterclass and “Cutting Through the Festival Bullshit” panel will offer frank advice to budding filmmakers.

A full list of filmmakers and special guests expected to attend will be announced closer to the festival.

Robert Redford, President & Founder of Sundance Institute, said: “I have long believed that the quality and originality of the independent films we show would be of interest to global audiences. Our Sundance Film Festival: London allows us to further help these new independent films get out into the world, starting with engaged audiences in the UK.”

FEATURE FILM PROGRAMME

American independent narrative and documentary films that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, U.S.A.

Author: The JT LeRoy Story
(Director / screenwriter: Jeff Feuerzeig)

The definitive look inside the mysterious case of 16-year-old literary sensation JT LeRoy – a creature so perfect for his time that if he didn’t exist, someone would have had to invent him. Perhaps someone did? The strangest story about story ever told. (Documentary)

International premiere

The Greasy Strangler
(Director: Jim Hosking)

When Big Ronnie and his son Brayden meet lone female tourist Janet on Big Ronnie’s Disco Walking Tour – the best and only disco walking tour in the city – a fight for Janet’s heart erupts between father and son, and the infamous Greasy Strangler is unleashed.

Principal Cast: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Jesse Keen, Joe David Walters

International premiere

Goat
(Director: Andrew Neel)

Reeling from a terrifying assault, a 19-yearold boy pledges his brother’s fraternity in an attempt to prove his manhood. What happens there, in the name of “brotherhood,” tests both the boys and their relationship in brutal ways.

Principal Cast: Nick Jonas, Ben Schnetzer, Virginia Gardner, Danny Flaherty, Austin Lyon

UK premiere

Indignation
(Director / screenwriter: James Schamus)

It’s 1951, and among the new arrivals at Winesburg College in Ohio are the son of a kosher butcher from New Jersey and the beautiful, brilliant daughter of a prominent alum. For a brief moment, their lives converge in this emotionally soaring film based on the novel by Philip Roth.

Principal Cast: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts, Linda Emond, Danny Burstein, Ben Rosenfield

UK premiere

The Intervention
(Director / screenwriter: Clea DuVall)

A weekend getaway for four couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip was orchestrated to host an intervention on their marriage.

Principal Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Cobie Smulders, Alia Shawkat, Clea DuVall, Natasha Lyonne, Ben Schwartz

Winner of the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance (Melanie Lynskey)/International premiere

Life, Animated
(Director / screenwriter: Roger Ross Williams)

Owen Suskind, an autistic boy who could not speak for years, slowly emerged from his isolation by immersing himself in Disney animated movies. Using these films as a roadmap, he reconnects with his loving family and the wider world in this emotional coming-of-age story. (Documentary)

Winner of the Directing Award: U.S. Documentary/UK premiere

Morris from America
(Director / screenwriter: Chad Hartigan)

Thirteen-year-old Morris, a hip-hop loving American, moves to Heidelberg, Germany, with his father. In this completely foreign land, he falls in love with a local girl, befriends his German tutor-turned- confidant, and attempts to navigate the unique trials and tribulations of adolescence.

Principal Cast: Markees Christmas, Craig Robinson, Carla Juri, Lina Keller, Jakub Gierszał, Levin Henning

Won: Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic; U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance (Craig Robinson)/UK premiere

Other People
(Director / screenwriter: Chris Kelly)

A struggling comedy writer, fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, moves to Sacramento to help his sick mother. Living with his conservative father and younger sisters, David feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother worsens, he tries to convince everyone (including himself) he’s “doing okay.”

Principal Cast: Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow, Zach Woods, June Squibb

International premiere

Tallulah

(Director / screenwriter: Sian Heder)

A rootless young woman takes a toddler from a wealthy, negligent mother and passes the baby off as her own in an effort to protect her. This decision connects and transforms the lives of three very different women.

Principal Cast: Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard, Evan Jonigkeit, Uzo Aduba

International premiere TBC

Weiner
(Directors / screenwriters: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg)

With unrestricted access to Anthony Weiner’s New York City mayoral campaign, this film reveals the human story behind the scenes of a high-profile political scandal as it unfolds, and it offers an unfiltered look at how much today’s politics are driven by an appetite for spectacle. (Documentary)

Winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary/European premiere

Wiener-Dog
(Director / screenwriter: Todd Solondz)

This film tells several stories featuring people who find their life inspired or changed by one particular dachshund, who seems to be spreading comfort and joy.

Principal Cast: Greta Gerwig, Kieran Culkin, Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, Julie Delpy, Zosia Mamet

International premiere. Presented in association with Time Out.

SHORT FILM PROGRAMME

Two wide-ranging collections of short films that screened in January at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

2016 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour – a 95-minute theatrical program of eight short films selected from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, showcasing a wide variety of story and style.

Affections
(Director / screenwriter: Bridey Elliott)

This comedy about isolation and loneliness follows a young woman who is adrift and seeking intimacy in the most unlikely places.

Bacon & God’s Wrath
(Director / screenwriter: Sol Friedman)

A 90-year-old Jewish woman reflects on her life experiences as she prepares to try bacon for the first time.

Winner of the Short Film Jury Award: Non-fiction, Presented by YouTube

Edmond
(Director / screenwriter: Nina Gantz)

Edmond’s impulse to love and be close to others is strong—maybe too strong. As he stands by a lake contemplating his options, he reflects on his defining moments in search of the origin of his desires.

Winner of the Short Film Jury Award: Animation, Presented by YouTube

Her Friend Adam
(Director / screenwriter: Ben Petrie)

A boyfriend’s jealous impulse spirals out of control in 16 minutes of romantic doom.

Winner of the Short Film Special Jury Award for Outstanding Performance (Grace Glowicki)

Jungle
(Director / screenwriter: Asantewaa Prempeh)

The lines between trust, betrayal, and forgiveness are intertwined for two Senegalese vendors as they try to make a living on the streets of New York City.

The Grandfather Drum (Director / screenwriter: Michelle Derosier)

As the balance of the world turns upside down for the Anishinabek people, the elder Naamowin builds a healing drum to save his grandson and his people.

The Procedure
(Director / screenwriter: Calvin Lee Reeder)

A man is captured and forced to endure a strange experiment.

Winner of the Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction, Presented by YouTube

Thunder Road
(Director / screenwriter: Jim Cummings)

Officer Arnaud loved his mom.

Winner of the Short Film Grand Jury Prize, Presented by YouTube

2016 Sundance Film Festival UK Shorts – a showcase of 7 UK shorts that screened at Sundance Film Festival 2016

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: ROAD TO STARDOM

A programme dedicated to showcasing notable films discovered by the Sundance Film Festival that feature stars and filmmakers who have since achieved global recognition. Presented in association with Empire Magazine.

Blood Simple
(Director: Joel Coen, Screenwriters: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)

The Coen Brothers exploded onto the indie film scene with this darkly funny thriller also featuring the first onscreen performance from Frances McDormand.

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 1985 Sundance Film Festival.

The Usual Suspects
(Director: Bryan Singer, Screenwriter: Christopher McQuarrie)

The height of tricksy 90s thrillers, Bryan Singer’s supremely stylish debut features Kevin Spacey in his break out, Oscar winnning role. Seething with tension and twists, the film remains a masterclass in non-linear editing and narrative manipulation in its tale of a heist gone violently wrong.

Winter’s Bone
(Director: Debra Granik, Screenwriters: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini)

Debra Granik’s intense first feature stars Jennifer Lawrence in the Oscar-nominated role that catapulted her to stardom as a Missouri teen determined to track down her missing drug addict father.

Winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

SPECIAL EVENTS

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

Cutting Through The Festival Bullshit: Sundance Film Festival Meets London

A short film discussion with Mike Plante (Sundance Film Festival), Philip Ilson (London Short Film Festival & BFI London Film Festival) and Katie Metcalfe (Nowness)

Festivals receive thousands of short film submissions. Get the real dirt on what they look for, what kinds of shorts find mass success and where and how. Sundance and London programmers compare short films from each country and discuss how filmmakers need to push boundaries and take risks.

Presented in association with Nowness.

Diversity as an Ethos – Panel discussion in association with the BFI

What happens when diversity is built into the ethos and decision making behind film production and festival programming? With Sundance Institute and BFI alike playing a key role in the development of indie films, what progress has been and will be made to diversify the independent filmmaking scene in the UK and across the pond? And what are the challenges faced by filmmakers from underrepresented groups in today’s busy indie filmmaking scene?

This lively discussion will gather Sundance Programmers, key players at the BFI, Sundance Film Festival London directors Sian Heder (Tallulah) and Roger Ross Williams (Life, Animated) and producer Effie Brown (last year’s Dear White People) who will explore the progress made and still to be made in diversifying the indie filmmaking scene on camera and behind the scenes.

James Schamus on the changing face of Independent Film

As the head of Focus Features, James Schamus was behind the production and distribution of some of the most critically acclaimed independent films of the last 15 years including: Brokeback Mountain; Lost in Translation; Atonement; The Pianist; The Constant Gardener; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and, 2010 Sundance Film Festival hit The Kids Are All Right.

As his witty feature directorial debut Indignation premieres, the legendary film producer will discuss his multi-faceted career and his success within the independent film industry. Hosted by Wendy Mitchell, former editor of Screen International and now film programme manager at British Council.

Presented in association with Screen International.