SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: LONDON 2021 PROGRAMME REVEALED

Sundance Institute and Picturehouse announced today the programme of feature films, short films and panel discussions for the Sundance Film Festival: London 2021, taking place 29 July – 1 August at Picturehouse Central, presented in association with Adobe. Sundance Film Festival Ticket Passes are on sale from 9:00am today, 2 June, with priority booking for Picturehouse Members and Sundance Film Festival Ticket Passholders on sale from 9:00am, Friday 4 June. Become a Picturehouse Member now at picturehouses.com/membership. General ticket sales will open at 9:00am on Monday 7 June. Tickets can be purchased today with a Sundance Film Festival ticket pass; buy yours now at picturehouses.com/sundance.

The festival will present 15 feature films from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, U.S.A., selected for London by the Sundance Institute programming team in collaboration with Picturehouse. The Festival opens with the UK premiere of Edgar Wright’s debut documentary The Sparks Brothers, a musical odyssey through five weird and wonderful decades with brothers Ron and Russell Mael, which will screen consecutively in cinemas across the UK along with a simulcast filmmaker Q+A. It will close four days later with the UK premiere screening of Janicza Bravo’s feature Zola, presented by Time Out.

Tabitha Jackson, Sundance Film Festival Director, said: “These films exemplify the spirit of a unique 2021 Sundance Film Festival – bold visions, unique perspectives, and singular creative talents. We (and I as a proud Brit) can’t wait to bring them to the big screens and in-person audiences of Sundance Film Festival: London.”

Clare Binns, Joint Managing Director Picturehouse Cinemas, added: “I echo Tabitha’s sentiments about being back in a venue where we can really show off the diverse and exciting programme to our audiences in London and beyond. We’re thrilled to be once again a physical event and look forward to welcoming people to this great line-up.”

Alongside the opening and closing night films, the festival will present a selection of sensational and wide-ranging filmmaking: Mass, starring Jason Isaacs and Ann Dowd alongside Martha Plimpton and Reed Birney, is an agonising drama following two sets of parents in the aftermath of a fatal high school shooting and is the debut feature from director-screenwriter Fran Kranz; winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize, U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at the 2021 edition of SundanceCODA (dir. Sian Heder, winner of Best Director in the U.S. Dramatic section at the 2021 Festival), which stars British actress Emilia Jones, is a warm-hearted comedy-drama following the hearing daughter of two deaf parents as she navigates helping her family run their struggling fishing business, whilst trying to keep up at school. Dash Shaw’s Cryptozoo is a mythical animation centering around the premise of Cryptozoology, a subculture who preserve the knowledge of folkloric creatures, with vocal performances from Lake Bell and Michael Cera.

In addition, cinema goers will be able to take in The Nest, Sean Durkin’s long-awaited follow up to Martha Marcy May Marlene (which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival)with superb performances from British actor Jude Law, alongside Carrie Coon. Receiving its world premiere at the Festival in 2021, Human Factors (dir. Ronny Trocker) balances phenomenal performances and effortlessly invents its own rules, reminding us even the closest family members may be only intimate strangers. Director Nikole Beckwith returned to the Festival this year with warm-hearted comedy Together Together, having previously screened Stockholm, Pennsylvania at the 2015 edition. The film stars comedy king Ed Helms alongside newcomer Patti Harrison.

As in previous years, along with Edgar Wright, the London edition will support British talent with Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor, an intoxicating horror feature set against the backdrop of the ‘video nasties’ social hysteria in 1985. The film made its world premiere at the 2021 festival, as did Sam Hobkinson’s Misha and The Wolves, an engrossing documentary feature which stylishly blends reenactments, interviews, and archival footage to tell a vivid story about truth, deception, and self-preservation.

Together with Misha and The Wolves, the festival’s documentary features share an equally impactful cinematic experience: Writing With Fire (winner of the Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary, and the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change, at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival). Directed by feature debut duo Rintu Tomas and Sushmit Ghosh, the documentary acts as an electrifying reminder to never underestimate the strength of a woman who’s had enough. Co-directors Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri’s The Most Beautiful Boy In The Worldis a thoughtful and quietly devastating meditation on obsession, trauma, and the cost of fame, telling the story of Björn Andrésen, and the burden he faced as a consequence of being proclaimed to be “the world’s most beautiful boy.”; Nanfu Wang’s In The Same Breath, which builds a damning indictment of Chinese and American leadership’s response to the pandemic, signals her return to the Festival following her 2019 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning documentary One Child Nation.

The 2021 festival continues the Sundance tradition of supporting emerging voices in filmmaking: First Date, a dark comedy turned coming of age thriller, signals the directorial debut for duo Darren Knapp and Manuel Crosby; a further feature debut in this year’s lineup comes from director Carson Young in the form of horror-fantasy hybrid, The Blazing Worldbased on a short of the same name which premiered at the Festival in 2018. 

Two short film programmes will showcase the work of emerging and established independent filmmakers; the 2021 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour – a 96-minute theatrical program of seven short films selected from this year’s Festival, including Wiggle Room winner of the Special Jury Prize for Acting; and the UK Short Film Programme – aselection of new shorts with diverse styles and unique stories, showcasing the vibrant talent creating short films in the UK today, including Lizard, winner of the Short Film Grand Jury Prize.

In an exclusive repertory strand, the festival will present three films connected with the programme and filmmakers.

  • Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash) chosen and introduced by Festival Director Tabitha Jackson.
  • Death in Venice (Luchino Visconti) introduced by the film’s star and subject of The Most Beautiful Boy In The World, Björn Andrésen.
  • Let’s Scare Jessica to Death chosen and introduced by Censor director Prano Bailey Bond.

Alongside the inspiring film selection, the festival will also highlight the work of industry pioneers with a series of panel discussions, providing audiences invaluable insight into the filmmaking process. Additional events to be confirmed.

  • Scare Tactics – Making Modern Horror’ panel hosted by Wendy Mitchell and featuring guests including Censor director Prano Bailey Bond.
  • Shaping The Truth: Discussing Documentary Ethics and Filmmaking’ panel hosted by Doc Society’s Shanida Scotland and featuring guests including, directors Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri (The Most Beautiful Boy In The World), and Sam Hobkinson (Misha and the Wolves).

Festivalgoers will have a special chance to catch an unannounced title with the festival’s fourth Surprise Film – the 2019 choice was Paul Briganti’s Greener Grass.

In a new first, this year’s edition will go on tour, with films showing in cinemas across the UK as part of the Sundance Film Festival London Tour – three films The NestWriting With Fire and Zola will screen at upwards of 30 cinemas across the festival dates 29 July – 1 August.

We are committed to offering a number of screenings and events with deaf and hard of hearing access options during the festival, more details will be published on the website. 

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

Sundance Film Festival: London 2021 is supported by: Presenting Partner – Adobe.

FEATURE FILM PROGRAMME — American independent narrative and documentary films that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, U.S.A.
Censor / United Kingdom (Director: Prano Bailey-Bond, Screenwriters: Prano Bailey-Bond, Anthony Fletcher, Producer: Helen Jones) — When film censor Enid discovers an eerie horror that speaks directly to her sister’s mysterious disappearance, she resolves to unravel the puzzle behind the film and its enigmatic director – a quest blurring the lines between fiction and reality in terrifying ways.Cast: Niamh Algar, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Adrian Schiller, Michael Smiley.Special Screening
CODA / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Siân Heder, Producers: Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi, Patrick Wachsberger) — As a CODA – Child of Deaf Adults – Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents. Principal cast: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, and Marlee Matlin. Winner – Best Director U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic, Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, 2021 UK Premiere
Cryptozoo / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Dash Shaw, Producers: Kyle Martin, Jane Samborski, Bill Way, Tyler Davidson) —As cryptozookeepers struggle to capture a Baku (a legendary dream-eating hybrid creature) they begin to wonder if they should display these rare beasts in the confines of a cryptozoo, or if these mythical creatures should remain hidden and unknown.Principal cast: Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Angeliki Papoulia, Zoe Kazan, Peter Stormare, Grace Zabriskie.UK Premiere
First Date/ U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Manuel Crosby, Darren Knapp, Producers: Brandon Kraus, Manuel Crosby, Darren Knapp, Lucky McKee, Charles Horak) — Conned into buying a shady ’65 Chrysler, Mike’s first date with the girl-next-door, Kelsey, implodes as he finds himself targeted by criminals, cops, and a crazy cat lady. A night fueled by desire, bullets and burning rubber makes any other first date seem like a walk in the park.Principal cast: Tyson Brown, Shelby Duclos, Jesse Janzen, Nicole Berry, Ryan Quinn Adams, Brandon Kraus.UK Premiere
The Blazing World/ U.S.A. (Director: Carlson Young, Screenwriters: Carlson Young, Pierce Brown, Producers: Brinton Bryan, Elizabeth Avellán) — Decades after the accidental drowning of her twin sister, a self-destructive young woman returns to her family home, finding herself drawn to an alternate dimension where her sister may still be alive.Principal cast: Udo Kier, Carlson Young, Dermot Mulroney, Vinessa Shaw, John Karna, Soko. UK Premiere
Human Factors/ Germany, Italy, Denmark (Director and Screenwriter: Ronny Trocker, Producers: Susanne Mann, Paul Zischler, Martin Rehbock) — A mysterious housebreaking exposes the agony of an exemplary middle class family.Principal cast: Sabine Timoteo, Mark Waschke, Jule Hermann, Wanja Valentin Kube, Hannes Perkmann, Daniel Séjourné. UK Premiere
In The Same Breath / U.S.A. (Director: Nanfu Wang, Producers: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn) — How did the Chinese government turn pandemic coverups in Wuhan into a triumph for the Communist party? An essential narrative of firsthand accounts of the coronavirus, and a revelatory examination of how propaganda and patriotism shaped the outbreak’s course. UK Premiere
Mass / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Fran Kranz, Producers: Fran Kranz, Casey Wilder Mott, JP Ouellette, Dylan Matlock) — Years after a tragic shooting, the parents of both the victim and the perpetrator meet face-to-face. Principal cast: Jason Isaacs, Ann Dowd, Martha Plimpton, Reed Birney. World Premiere, NarrativeUK Premiere
Misha and The Wolves/ United Kingdom, Belgium (Director and Screenwriter: Sam Hobkinson, Producers: Poppy Dixon, Al Morrow, Matthew Wells, Gregory Zalcman, Jürgen Buedts) — A woman’s Holocaust memoir takes the world by storm, but a fallout with her publisher-turned-detective reveals her story as an audacious deception created to hide a darker truth. UK Premiere
The Most Beautiful Boy in The World /Sweden (Directors: Kristina Lindström, Kristian Petri, Producer: Stina Gardell) — Swedish actor/musician Björn Andresen’s life was forever changed at the age of 15, when he played Tadzio, the object of Dirk Bogarde’s obsession in Death in Venice – a role which led Italian maestro Luchino Visconti to dub him “the world’s most beautiful boy.” UK Premiere
The Nest United Kingdom, Canada (Director and screenwriter: Sean Durkin, Producers: Ed Guiney, Derrin Schlesinger, Rose Garnett, Sean Durkin, Amy Jackson, Christina Piovesan) — Charismatic entrepreneur, Rory, relocates his family to England with dreams of profiting from booming 1980’s London. But as his wife, Allison, struggles to adapt, and the promise of a lucrative new beginning starts to unravel, the couple have to face the unwelcome truths lying beneath the surface of their marriage. Principal cast: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Charlie Shotwell, Oona Roche.UK Premiere
The Sparks Brothers / United Kingdom (Director: Edgar Wright, Producers: Nira Park, Edgar Wright, George Hencken, Laura Richardson) — How can one rock band be successful, underrated, hugely influential, and criminally overlooked all at the same time? Take a musical odyssey through five weird and wonderful decades with brothers Ron & Russell Mael, celebrating the inspiring legacy of Sparks: your favorite band’s favorite band.  UK Premiere
Together Together / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Nikole Beckwith, Producers: Anthony Brandonisio, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Tim Headington) — When young loner Anna is hired as the surrogate for Matt, a single man in his 40s, the two strangers come to realize this unexpected relationship will quickly challenge their perceptions of connection, boundaries and the particulars of love. Principal cast: Ed Helms, Patti Harrison, Tig Notaro, Julio Torres, Anna Konkle. UK Premiere
Writing With Fire / India (Directors and Producers: Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh) — In a cluttered news landscape dominated by men, emerges India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women. Armed with smartphones, Chief Reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions on the frontlines of India’s biggest issues and within the confines of their own homes, redefining what it means to be powerful. Winner – Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary, World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change, 2021 UK Premiere
ZolaU.S.A. (Director: Janicza Bravo, Screenwriters: Janicza Bravo, Jeremy O. Harris, Producers: Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, Vince Jolivette, Elizabeth Haggard, Dave Franco, Gia Walsh) — 2015: @zolarmoon tweets “wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out???????? It’s kind of long but full of suspense.” Two girls bond over their “hoeism” and become fast friends. What’s supposed to be a trip from Detroit to Florida turns into a weekend from hell. Principal cast: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Colman Domingo. UK Premiere. Presented in association with Time Out.
SURPRISE FILM-Following on from the last three Surprise Films, Paul Briganti’s dark comedy Greener Grass, 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.
SHORT FILM PROGRAMME – Two wide-ranging collections of new short films from the UK and around the world
2021 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 2021 programme offers new audiences a taste of what the Festival offers, from sharply-written comedy and drama to edgy genre and an intimate family saga.
BJ’s Mobile Gift Shop / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Jason Park) — A young Korean-American hustler runs throughout the city of Chicago making sales out of his “mobile gift shop.” – U.S. Fiction
Black Bodies / Canada (Director and Screenwriter: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall) — A Black man laments as hecomes face-to-face with the realities of being Black in the 21st century. – International Fiction  
The Criminals / France, Romania, Turkey (Director and Screenwriter: Serhat Karaaslan) — In a town in Turkey, a young couple is looking for some privacy. They are rejected from the hotels because they do not have a marriage certificate. When they think they found a way, the situation gets out of hand. The Criminals received the 2021 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Writing. – International Fiction
KKUM / South Korea, U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Kang-min Kim) — My mother’s dreams have always been strong premonitions for important moments in my life. I rely on her dreams more than any religion. – Animation
To Know Her / U.S.A., Hong Kong (Director: Natalie Chao) — A poetic exploration of the camera’s gaze and a family’s relationship with the filmmaker’s mother. – Non-Fiction 
White Wedding / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Melody C. Roscher) — Amidst a racially tense Southern wedding, a biracial bride has the chance to confront her estranged Black father after accidentally hiring his wedding band to perform. – U.S. Fiction
Wiggle Room / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Sam Guest, Julia Baylis) — Determined to save her wheelchair ramp from repossession, Daisy confronts the shady insurance agent who owes her money.Winner – Special Jury Prize for Acting. – U.S. Fiction, 2021
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.
The Fire Next Time / United Kingdom (Director: Renaldho Pelle, Screenwriter: Kerry Jade Kolbe) — Rioting spreads as social inequality causes tempers in a struggling community to flare, but the oppressive environment takes on a life of its own as the shadows of the housing estate close in.
The Thing That Ate The Birds/ United Kingdom (Director: Sophie Mair, Dan Gitsham) — Head Gamekeeper Abel discovers the Thing that is eating his Grouse and brings the horror back home to his already crumbling relationship with his wife.  
Dear Philadelphia / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Renee Osubu) — With the help of their family, friends, and faith, three fathers unravel the incomparable partnership of forgiveness and community in North Philadelphia.
Strasbourg 1518/United Kingdom (Director: Jonathan Glazer; Music: Mica Levi) —Inspired by a powerful involuntary mania which took hold of citizens in the city of Strasbourg just over 500 years ago, Strasbourg 1518 is a collaboration in isolation with some of the greatest dancers working today. 
Motherland/ United Kingdom (Director: Ellen Evans) — Motherland traces the experiences of two young men forcibly returned to Jamaica after a lifetime in Britain, alongside the story of a Windrush-generation man denied re-entry to the UK. Through the personal accounts of those who have had their British identity questioned by the state, Motherland explores what it really means for someone to “go back home”. 
Lizard / United Kingdom (Director: Akinola Davies, Jr., Screenwriter: The Davies Brothers) — Juwon, an 8-year-old girl with an ability to sense danger, gets ejected from Sunday school service. She unwittingly witnesses the underbelly in and around a megachurch in Lagos. Winner – Short Film Grand Jury Prize
SPECIAL EVENTS – Discussions with renowned guest speakers providing incredible insights into the filmmaking process.
Scare Tactics – Making Modern Horror’Panellists will include Censor director Prano Bailey Bond.Hosted by film journalist Wendy Mitchell. 
Shaping The Truth: Discussing Documentary Ethics and Filmmaking’Panellists will  include directors Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri (The Most Beautiful Boy In The World), and Sam Hobkinson (Misha and the Wolves).Hosted by Doc Society’s Shanida Scotland.