Sundance London 2017

Sundance London
Sundance London
Picturehouse Central
June 1-4, 2017

by Joanna Orland

Sundance Film Festival has once again descended upon London, bringing with it highlights from this year’s Utah lineup. With high profile indie films including Beatriz at Dinner, The Big Sick and A Ghost Story, one thing that stood out from this year’s festival was the amount of Amazon and Netflix logos in opening credits. To quote Crown Heights director Matt Ruskin, “[They] breathe a lot of life into independent film.” The trend of these companies either buying up festival hits or producing their own has truly boomed in the past two years, and with independent cinema struggling to find an audience in the shadow of Hollywood, they have come along at just the right time.

A Ghost Story
A Ghost Story
Directed by David Lowery
Starring Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham, Sonia Acevedo, Rob Zabrecky and Liz Franke

It’s impossible to avoid the pun of ‘haunting’ when describing David Lowery’s A Ghost Story. It’s a film that gets under your skin and truly affects you through its mesmerizing premise and eerie execution. Eccentric ideas are explored through abstract passages of time, minimal dialogue and unearthly music which all fully immerse you in this tragic tale. With a title that should really include an ‘apostrophe’ and an ‘s’, this story of a ghost’s journey in the afterlife, from the ghost’s perspective, is fresh and fascinating… read more

Crown Heights
Crown Heights
Directed by Matt Ruskin
Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Bill Camp, Nestor Carbonell, and Nnamdi Asomugha

The story of Crown Heights is all too familiar – the justice system in America fails the black community and those who cannot afford a proper defense. This is the true story of Colin Warner, wrongfully convicted of 2nd degree murder, serving 21 years in prison before proving his innocence. His friend Carl King battled long and hard to free Colin, fighting for decades to have his appeal heard… read more

Marjorie Prime
Marjorie Prime
Directed by Michael Almereyda
Starring Jon Hamm, Geena Davis, Lois Smith and Tim Robbins

Based on Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play of the same name, I can imagine Marjorie Prime is quite profound on the stage, and if the film cast were to perform it live, it would be a sensation. Sadly, director Michael Almereyda’s execution of the story doesn’t quite work; great performances and sophisticated ideas alone are not enough to salvage it through its choppy editing, sound issues and perpetual morosity… read more


The Big Sick
Directed by Michael Showalter
Written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon
Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Adeel Akhtar, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Kurt Braunohler, Aidy Bryant, Vella Lovell and Bo Burnham

Fans of Kumail Nanjiani are definitely going to like this film based on the comedian’s true-life love story with wife Emily V. Gordon. Written by the couple, produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer, Hello, My Name is Doris, They Came Together ), The Big Sick follows Kumail as he deals with the dichotomy of honouring his Pakistani heritage while dating his white American girlfriend… read more

The Incredible Jessica James
The Incredible Jessica James
Directed by Jim Strouse
Starring Jessica Williams, Chris O’Dowd, Lakeith Stanfield and Noël Wells

Jessica James is an aspiring New York playwright, is heartbroken over a recent breakup, is dating someone new, and is both quite insecure and highly overconfident at the same time. Jessica is a complicated person… read more

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