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Sundance London Announces Full Lineup, With a Surprise Film and New Audience Award

‘A Ghost Story’ to close festival with director David Lowery headlining events section

Sundance London Announces Line-up With Surprise
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story” will close this year’s Sundance Film Festival: London, organizers said Tuesday, unveiling the festival’s full lineup. Lowery will also headline the events section of the program with an onstage interview.

This fest will present 14 features that saw their world premieres at parent festival Sundance in Park City, Utah, in January. The films were selected by the Sundance Institute programming team in conjunction with Picturehouse. Miguel Arteta’s “Beatriz at Dinner” was previously announced as the opening film for Sundance London, which takes place for a second year at Picturehouse Central in the British capital’s Soho district, from June 1-4.

“As we head into our fifth festival in London, we remain committed to introducing new American independent films to audiences around the world,” said Robert Redford, president and founder of Sundance Institute. “Our success in the U.K. is a reflection of the enormous creativity of independent artists and the stories they tell, as well as the curious and adventurous audiences who have made us feel right at home in the heart of London.”

The lineup includes seven Sundance award winners, including the international premiere of Matt Ruskin’s “Crown Heights,” winner of the audience award for U.S. dramatic, and “Chasing Coral,” winner of the audience award for U.S. documentary. Festival director John Cooper says it was a happy coincidence that so many of the films he and director of programming Trevor Groth had picked as suggestions for Sundance London ahead of their screenings in Park City ended up as festival award winners.

This year will see the London version introduce an audience-voted award that , the Sundance Film Festival: London Audience Favorite. Clare Binns, Picturehouse’s director of programming and acquisitions, said she hoped the award, which was the brain-child of Picturehouse, would help to “encourage the sense of a film community that Park City does so well.”

“Sundance, more than any other festival I’ve been to, has that sense of community and audience involvement,” Binns told Variety, suggesting the intimacy of the location was a big part of that. “An audience favorite award is a nice extra touch to give the U.K. festival audience some more involvement.”

“We liked the idea of the award,” Cooper said in an interview. “It engages the audience and adds excitement, but it also means we get to see how the films have played.”

This year’s Sundance London will also include a surprise film for the first time. The film will be drawn from the Park City lineup but will not be revealed until the opening credits roll on June 2. Candidates could include Macon Blair’s “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” which won the Grand Jury prize for U.S. dramatic film at Sundance in January but is currently not on the program in London.

Other features include the international premieres of Michael Showalter’s “The Big Sick” and Marianna Palka’s “Bitch”; European premieres of Jim Strouse’s “The Incredible Jessica James” and Alex and Adam Smith’s “Walking Out”; and the U.K. premieres of Cary Murnion and Jonathan Millot’s “Bushwick,” Michael Almereyda’s “Marjorie Prime” and Craig Johnson’s “Wilson.”

In addition to “Chasing Coral,” two other award-winning documentaries feature in the lineup: Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini’s Grand Jury prize winner “Dina” and Bryan Fogel’s Orwell Award winner “Icarus.”

Two shorts programs, featuring 15 films, include a strand dedicated to eight new U.K. shorts. Cooper said that the shorts category has attracted the most submissions from female directors, who account for six of the selections, including “Come Swim,” written and directed by Kristen Stewart.

Lowery will take part in an in conversation event titled “I Get Overwhelmed: From Saints to Ghosts” as part of the festival. Lowery’s 2013 feature “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” which first teamed the director with “A Ghost Story” stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, will accompany the live event. “A Ghost Story” receives its U.K. premiere at the festival.

Other events include three panel discussions, each focusing separately on issues surrounding current feature filmmaking, documentaries and short films.