This year’s Sundance Film Festival will see 15 features and eight shorts with British involvement in the official selection alongside a host of on-screen talent including Daniel Radcliffe, Felicity Jones, James Buckley and Rupert Grint set to make an appearance in Park City.
Among the line-up of UK films is Michael Winterbottom’s highly anticipated The Look of Love, starring Steve Coogan which has its World Premiere at Sundance, John Akomfrah’s The Stuart Hall Project and Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers.
Shorts in the official competition include Kibwe Tavares’ Jonah and Fyzal Boulifa’s The Curse which were produced with Lottery funding through the BFI Film Fund. UK documentary filmmakers will also take centre stage at the festival, with nine documentaries with UK involvement selected to feature in Sundance’s highly competitive documentary sections.
The BFI’s Film Export Fund is in addition supporting sales companies representing five films at the festival with funding to help enhance their international sales potential and profile. Films include Jeremy Lovering’s In Fear, Michael Winterbottom’s The Look of Love, Sean Ellis’ Metro Manila, John Akomfrah’s The Stuart Hall Project, and Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier’s The Moo Man.
FEATURE FILMS WITH UK INVOLVEMENT AT SUNDANCE:
Austenland (Director: Jerusha Hess, Screenwriters: Jerusha Hess, Shannon Hale, Producers: Stephenie Meyer, Gina Mingacci, Co-producer: Jane Hooks) – Jane’s life-size paper doll of Mr. Darcy and her “I Love Darcy” tote may be tattered, but even in her thirties, she hasn’t grown out of her obsession with all things Jane Austen.
Before Midnight (Director: Richard Linklater, Screenwriters: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater, Producers: Richard Linklater, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Sara Woodhatch, Kostas Kefalas) – We meet Celine and Jesse nine years after their last rendezvous. Almost two decades have passed since their first encounter on a train bound for Vienna, and we now find them in their early forties in Greece. Before the clock strikes midnight, we will again become part of their story.
Crash Reel (Director: Lucy Walker, Screenwriters: Pedro Kos, Lucy Walker, Producers: Julian Cautherly, Lucy Walker) – An eye-popping, yet intimate, story of U.S. champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce using years of vérité footage to expose the excitement and appeal, as well as the high stakes, of participating in extreme-action sports.
Google and the World Brain (Documentary – Director: Ben Lewis, Producer: Bettina Walter) – Quietly and behind closed doors, Google has been executing a project to scan and digitize every printed word on the planet. Working with the world’s most prestigious libraries, the webmasters are reinventing the limits of copyright in the name of free access to anyone, anywhere. What can possibly be wrong with this picture?
In Fear (Director: Jeremy Lovering, Screenwriter: Story by Jeremy Lovering, Producers: Nira Park, James Biddle) – A young couple fights to survive one night-turned-nightmare. Driving to a music festival, Tom and Lucy have plans to stay at a countryside hotel. But with hotel signs leading them in circles and darkness falling, they soon become lost in a maze of country roads…and the target of an unknown tormentor.
The Look of Love (Director: Michael Winterbottom, Screenwriter: Matt Greenhalgh, Producer: Melissa Parmenter) – Welcome to the scandalous world of Paul Raymond, entrepreneur, impresario, and the “king of Soho.” Seeing mediocrity in the smutty sex parlors of London, Raymond unveils his first “gentlemen’s club” in 1958 and gradually builds an empire of clubs and erotic magazines that brings him vast wealth while affronting British sexual mores. It also brings a litany of obscenity charges, a failed marriage, troubled children, and personal tragedy.
Manhunt (Documentary – Director: Greg Barker, Producers: John Battsek, Julie Goldman, Nancy Abraham) – On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden, America’s public enemy number one, was killed by Navy SEALs in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The raid, a watershed moment that gripped most of the world, lasted a mere 40 minutes. But the hunt for bin Laden took two decades.
Metro Manila (Director: Sean Ellis, Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers, Producers: Mathilde Charpentier, Sean Ellis) – Seeking a brighter future in megacity Manila, Oscar Ramirez and his family flee their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines. But the sweltering capital’s bustling intensity quickly overwhelms them, and they fall prey to the rampant manipulations of its hardened locals. Oscar catches a lucky break when he’s offered steady work for an armored truck company and gregarious senior officer Ong takes him under his wing. Soon, though, the reality of his work’s mortality rate and the murky motives of his new partner force Oscar to confront the perils he faces in his new job and life.
The Moo Man (Documentary – Directors: Andy Heathcote, Codirector: Heike Bachelier, Producers: Andy Heathcote, Heike Bachelier) – The remarkable story of a maverick farmer and his unruly cows, filmed over four years on the marshes of the Pevensey Levels.
Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer (Documentary – Directors: Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin, Producers: Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin) – British filmmaker Mike Lerner and Russian Maxim Pozdorovkin collaborate to chronicle the way one small act of protest captured a nation’s attention and grew to become an international story of human-rights abuse.
Salma (Documentary – Director: Kim Longinotto, Screenwriter: Ollie Huddleston, Executive Producers: Hamish Mykura, Anna Miralis) – Against the odds, Salma became the most famous Tamil poet: the first step to discovering her own freedom and challenging the traditions and code of conduct in her village.
The Stuart Hall Project (Documentary – Director: John Akomfrah, Producers: Lina Gopaul, David Lawson) – A person’s culture is something that is often described as fixed or defined and rooted in a particular region, nation, or state. Stuart Hall, one of the most preeminent intellectuals on the Left in Britain, updates this definition as he eloquently theorizes that cultural identity is fluid—always morphing and stretching toward possibility but also constantly experiencing nostalgia for a past that can never be revisited.
The Summit (Documentary – Director: Nick Ryan, Screenwriter: Mark Monroe, Producer: Nick Ryan) – Although K2 is only the second-highest peak in the world, it is renowned as the most dangerous and revered by mountaineers as their ultimate challenge. In August 2008, 18 of 24 climbers reached the summit of K2. Forty-eight hours later, 11 people were dead. What happened on that fateful day has never been resolved.
Who is Dayani Cristal? (Documentary – Director: Marc Silver, Screenwriter: Mark Monroe, Producers: Lucas Ochoa, Thomas Benski, Gael García Bernal) – August 3, 2010, Pima County, Arizona—Deep in the sun-blistered Sonora desert beneath a cicada tree, border police discover a decomposing male body. Lifting a tattered T-shirt, they expose a tattoo that reads “Dayani Cristal.” Who is this person? What brought him here? How did he die? And who—or what—is Dayani Cristal?
Sightseers (Director: Ben Wheatley, Screenwriters: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Producers: James Biddle, Andrew Starke, Claire Jones, Nira Park) – Chris wants to finally show sheltered Tina the world, and he wants to do it his way—on a journey through the British Isles in his beloved Abbey Oxford Caravan, visiting such illustrious sites as the National Tramway Museum, the Ribblehead Viaduct, the Cumberland Pencil Museum, and the rolling countryside in between. But it doesn’t take long for the dream to fade. Litterbugs, noisy teenagers, and prebooked caravan sites soon conspire to shatter Chris’s dreams and send him, and anyone who rubs him the wrong way, over a very jagged edge.
UK shorts screening in competition at Sundance in 2013:
The Curse – (Director: Fyzal Boulifa, Screenwriter: Fyzal Boulifa, Producers: Gavin Humphries and Karim Debbagh) Fatine has ventured far from the village to meet her older lover. When a small boy catches her, all she wants to do is go home.
The Event – (Director: Julia Pott, Screenwriter: Tom Chivers, Producers: Carrie Thomas, Zack Kortright) Love and a severed foot at the end of the world.
Jonah – (Director: Kibwe Tavares, Screenwriter: Jack Thorne, Producer: Ivana MacKinnon) When two young men photograph a gigantic fish leaping from the sea, their small town becomes a tourist attraction in this story about the old and the new.
Primate Cinema: Apes as Family – (Director: Rachel Mayeri, Screenwriter: Rachel Mayeri, Producers: The Arts Catalyst, Matt Johnstone) Chimpanzees, our closest relatives, like to watch television. What would a film made expressly for chimps look like? A primatologist and actors in chimp suits present a primate drama for chimpanzees at the Edinburgh Zoo.
Reindeer – (Director: Eva Weber, Producer: Gareth Rhys Thomas) A lyrical and haunting portrait of reindeer herding in the twilight expanses of the Lapland wilderness.
Scrubber – (Director: Romola Garai, Screenwriter: Romola Garai, Producers: Shona Kerr, Romola Garai) A mysterious and disturbing suburban narrative about a listless young mother who is torn between family duty and self-serving fantasies.
Volume – (Director: Mahalia Belo, Screenwriter: Ingeborg Topsøe, Producer: Casey Herbert) Sam’s perfectly polished world is upended when Georgina goes missing. As everyone acts like nothing has happened, Sam drifts back into his memories of Georgina and realizes he may know more than he wants to remember.
30% Women and Politics in Sierra Leone – (Director: Anna Cady, Screenwriters: Em Cooper, Anna Cady, Jenny Cuffe, Producer: Anna Cady) Oil-painted animation brings to life the stories of three powerful women in postconflict Sierra Leone, revealing the violence and corruption women face as they fight for fairer representation in governing their country.