Sundance Film Festival London 2023 – 6-9 July


Sundance Film Festival London 2023 6-9 July

by Alexa Dalby

Fairyland  / United States
(Director and Screenwriter: Andrew Durham, Producers:  Sofia Coppola, Andrew Durham, Megan Carlson, Siena Oberman, Greg Lauritano, Laure Sudreau) – Fairyland is the story of a gay, single father raising his young daughter in San Francisco during the 1970s and 1980s.
Andrew Durham’s Fairyland is a stylish coming-of-age drama based on Alysia Abbott’s memoir Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father. The film is told from the perspective of a young girl being brought up by her single gay father in San Francisco in the 1970s and stars Emilia Jones (CODA), Scoot McNairy (Argo), Geena Davis (Thelma & Louise) and singer-songwriter Adam Lambert.
Cast: Emiila Jones, Scoot McNairy, Geena Davis, Cody Fern, Adam Lambert, Maria Bakalova

Mutt  / United States
(Director and Screenwriter: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Producers:  Alexander Stegmaier, Stephen Scott Scarpulla, Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Jennifer Kuczaj, Executive Producers: Silas Howard, Andrew Carlberg, Sarah Herrman, Susie Hile, Hannah Kettering) – Feña, a young trans guy bustling through life in New York City, is faced with an increasingly challenging day. Over 24 hours, his foreign father, his straight ex-boyfriend, and his 13-year old half-sister thrust back into his life. Having lost touch since transitioning, Feña must navigate the new dynamics of these old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges that come with living a life in-between.
This compelling film is directed, written, and produced by Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, a Chilean-Serbian filmmaker raised between Chile, New York City, and Serbia – and it won the 2023 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting for Lio Mehiel’s performance.
Cast: Lïo Mehiel, Cole Doman, Mimi Ryder, Alejandro Goic

Past Lives  / United States
(Director and Screenwriter: Celine Song, Producers: David Hinojosa, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon) – Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrest apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make a life, in this heartrending modern romance.
Past Lives is an astonishing and deeply romantic film which stars Greta Lee (Russian Doll), Teo Yoo (Decision To Leave), and John Magaro (First Cow). It is a stunning debut from writer and director Celine Song and follows a reunion between two childhood friends as they contemplate their relationship and their own lives.

Passages  / United States
(Director: Ira Sachs, Screenwriters: Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, Producers: Saïd Ben Saïd,  Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon) – A gay couple’s marriage is thrown into crisis when one of them begins a passionate affair with a younger woman.
Cast: Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Ben Whishaw (Women Talking), Franz Rogowski (Great Freedom).

Scrapper  / United Kingdom
(Director and Screenwriter: Charlotte Regan, Producers: Theo Barrowclough, Executive Producers: Eva Yates, Farhana Bhula, Michael Fassbender, Cono McCaughan, Daniel Emmerson, Jim Reeve. Georgie, a dreamy 12-year-old girl, lives happily alone in her London flat, filling it with magic. Suddenly, her estranged father turns up and forces her to confront reality.
The Festival will open on 6 July with the UK premiere of Scrapper, written and directed by Londoner Charlotte Regan. Charlotte is a Sundance Ignite Fellow and was named as a 2020 Screen International Star of Tomorrow. The film stars Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, Triangle of Sadness) and newcomers Lola Campbell and Alin Uzun. Theo Barrowclough produces, and the executive producers are Michael Fassbender, Eva Yates, Farhana Bhula, Conor McCaughan, Daniel Emmerson and Jim Reeve.
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Lola Campbell, Alin Uzun, Ambreen Razia, Olivia Brady, Aylin Tezel

Talk To Me / Australia
(Directors: Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou, Screenwriters: Danny Philippou, Bill Hinzman, Producer: Samantha Jennings, Kristina Ceyton, Co-Producer: Christopher Seeto, Executive Producers: Stephen Kelliher, Sophie Green, Compton Ross, Daniel Negret, Noah Dummett, John Dummett, Jeff Harrison, Ari Harrison, Miranda Otto, Dale Roberts, Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou) – When a group of friends discover how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill, until one of them goes too far and opens the door to the spirit world, forcing them to choose who to trust: the dead or the living.
A crowd-pleasing horror-thriller for the Instagram-generation, which follows a group of friends who discover how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand, becoming hooked on the new thrill, until one of them goes too far.
Cast: Sophie Wilde, Mirando Otto, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Djanji, Zoe Terakes

You Hurt My Feelings / United States
(Director and Screenwriter: Nicole Holofcener, Producers: Stefanie Azpiazu, Anthony Bregman) – From acclaimed filmmaker Nicole Holofcener comes a sharply observed comedy about a novelist whose long standing marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband give his honest reaction to her latest book. A film about trust, lies, and the things we say to the people we love most.
Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins, Owen Teague, Arian Moayed, Jeannie Berlin


Fantastic Machine / Sweden/Denmark
(Directors, Cinematographers and Producers: Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck) – The camera is a fantastic machine. Filmmakers Axel Danielson & Maximilien Van Aertryck (Ten Meter Tower, Jobs For All!) once again turn their cameras directly on society, this time to explore, explain and expose how our unchecked obsession with image has grown to change our human behavior. From Camera Obscura and the Lumieres Brothers all the way to Youtube and the world of social media, the film chronicles how we went from capturing the image of a backyard to a multi-billion- euro content industry in just 200 years. With an exclusive use of archival and found footage, the film uses the very medium it examines, in a self-reflective yet hilarious montage.
Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson’s engrossing and topical Fantastic Machine (winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival), takes the audience on a voyage through the life of the video camera. Weaving and contrasting some of the most iconic, harrowing, and viral images in our collective memory with user-generated footage, Danielson and Van Aertryck intricately fashion an argument about how humans see themselves.

Going Varsity in Mariachi / United States
(Directors: Alejandra Vasquez, Sam Osborn,  Producers: James Lawler, Luis A. Miranda Jr., Julia Pontecorvo, Executive Producers: Jenny Raskin, Lauren Haber, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Owen Panettieri, Steve Cohen, Paula Froehle, Debbie L. McLeod, Co-Executive Producers:  Meryl Metni, Kelsey Koenig, Jennifer Pellinig) – In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of Coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions.
Filmmakers Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn transport their audience to a symphonically, aesthetically, and emotionally vibrant world in Going Varsity in Mariachi (winner of the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival). This energetic documentary captures the highs and lows of a high-school mariachi band in Texas, as they compete in the state championship and students must juggle school life while embracing their heritage.

Invisible Beauty  / United States
(Directors: Bethann Hardison, Frédéric Tcheng, Producers: Lisa Cortes, Co-Producer: Paul Dallas,  Co-Executive Producer: David Chan, Robina Riccitiello, Chris Stolte, Heidi Stolte, Executive Producers: Hallee Adelman, John Boccardo, Derek Esplin, Ivy Herman, Rick Rosenthal, Nancy Stephens, Andrew Van Beuren) – Invisible Beauty is the story of Bethann Hardison, a fashion revolutionary who has been on the front lines of racial justice in her industry for over five decades. Through her life journey as a pioneering Black model, modeling agent and activist, the film explores race, beauty and
Invisible Beauty looks back at the incredible impact Bethann Hardison has had over the last five decades, as an activist, model, and muse. Co-directed by Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng (Halston, Dior and I), the fashion revolutionary reflects on her personal journey and the cost of being a pioneer.

Squaring The Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) / United Kingdom
(Director: Anton Corbijn, Producers: Trish D Chetty, Ged Doherty, Colin Firth, Co-Producer: Christian Holland, Guy Thompson, Executive Producers: Stuart Souter, Merck Mercuriadis, Nick Angel, Andrew Hulme, Thorsten Schumacher, George Chignell) – Celebrated filmmaker, photographer, and creative director Anton Corbijn’s first feature documentary tells the story of Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell, the creative geniuses behind the iconic album art design studio, Hipgnosis. As Hipgnosis, the pair were responsible for some of the most recognisable album covers of all time, including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Paul McCartney and Wings’ Band on the Run, and Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy, all three of which celebrate their 50th anniversaries this year. While Storm and Po never played a note, they forever changed how we look at music.
Anton Corbijn’s (Control, The American) charming feature documentary debut, Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis), is an entertaining tribute to the days of analog creativity and artistic risk. Corbijn’s film explores the duo behind a generation of iconic album covers, Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell, aka the innovative design studio Hipgnosis. Interviewees in the film include Paul McCartney, Noel Gallagher, Roger Waters and David Gilmour

GREGG ARAKI RETROSPECTIVE  – The Totally F*cked Up Cinema of Gregg Araki

The Doom Generation  (1995)
(Director and Screenwriter: Gregg Araki, Producers: Gregg Araki, Andrea Sperling) – Jordan White and Amy Blue, two troubled teens, pick up an adolescent drifter, Xavier Red. Together, the threesome embark on a sex-and-violence-filled journey through an America of psychos and quickie marts.
Cast: James Duval, Rose McGowan, Jonathan Schaech

Three Bewildered People In The Night   (1987)
(Director, Cinematographer and Screenwriter: Gregg Araki) – David, Craig and Alicia are a triangle of young lovers who find angst and despair as they sort out their feelings and sexuality in a late-night coffee shop.UK premiere screening
Cast: Mark Howell, John Lacques, Darcy Marta

Mysterious Skin (2004)
(Director and Screenwriter: Gregg Araki, Producers: Gregg Araki, Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte, Mary Jane Skalski, Executive Producer: Wouter Barendrecht,  Michael J. Werner, Based on the novel by Scott Heim) – A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth.
Cast: Brady Corbet, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elisabeth Shue



Alongside the 11 feature films, short film programme, an exclusive Gregg Araki retrospective, and the industry programme speakers previously announced, the Festival will also present a special screening of Rye Lane; three public talks and a jam-packed industry programme curated exclusively for industry badgeholders.

Talent Attendance
The Festival will see an abundance of filmmaking talent in attendance, with all 11 feature films confirmed to have filmmakers and/or special guests present to participate in insightful and fascinating Q&As. Filmmakers include: Gregg Araki; Anton Corbijn (dir, Squaring The Circle); Nicole Holofcener (dir, You Hurt My Feelings); Ira Sachs (wr/dir, Passages); Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck (dirs, Fantastic Machine); Charlotte Regan (dir, Scrapper); Frederic Tcheng and Bethann Hardison (dirs, Invisible Beauty); Celine Song (wr/dir, Past Lives); Danny and Michael Philippou (dirs, Talk To Me), Sam Osborn and Alejandra Vasquez (dirs, Going Varsity in Mariachi); and Andrew Durham (dir, Fairyland).

Film talent and special guests to include: Lío Mehiel (actor, Mutt), Darcy Marta (actor, Three Bewildered People in The Night), Emilia Jones (actor, Fairyland), Harris Dickinson (actor, Scrapper), Lola Campbell (actor, Scrapper), Molly Manning Walker (cinematographer, Scrapper) and Pam Koffler and David Hinojosa (producers, Past Lives).

Public Film Screening and Talks
The Festival is thrilled to host a celebratory homecoming screening of Rye Lane, one of the stand-out hits from 2023 Sundance Film Festival. The film, which was shot in south London, received wide-ranging critical acclaim when released in the UK in March, and is directed by Raine Allen-Miller in her feature directorial debut from a screenplay by Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia. This special homecoming screening will be followed by a talk with several members of the film team about their creative collaboration. Speakers will include producer Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo, composer Kwes, cinematographer Olan Collardy, costume designer Cynthia Lawernce John and hair and makeup artist Bianca Simone Scott.

The Festival has curated three exclusive panel events, which are open to the public, and will be made up of thoughtful and engaging discussion from the panellists and moderators with the aim to spark curiosity amongst the audience.

Finding My Voice, presented by Audible, will see emerging filmmakers talk about developing their storytelling approach while making their debut feature films and how they see their storytelling perspectives evolving in the future. Speakers include: Celine Song, (wr/dir Past Lives), Adura Onashile, (wr/dir Girl) Nida Manzoor (wr/dir Polite Society, We Are Lady Parts) and Molly Manning Walker (cinematographer Scrapper and wr/dir, How to Have Sex).

The Modern Gaze of Sex on Screen will discuss the way we talk about sex in films is constantly evolving – audience responses to challenging sex scenes are different today than they were even five years ago. What’s sexy to one person could be triggering for another. The discussion will explore how the creative voices approach portraying different kinds of sexuality in their films, and how they do that while protecting cast and crew. Speakers include Ira Sachs (wr/dir, Passages), Gregg Araki (wr/dir, The Doom Generation); Ita O’Brien, intimacy coordinator and founder of Intimacy on Set, and Lío Mehiel (actor, Mutt). Author/podcaster Anna Bogutskaya will moderate.

The Producer’s Life will take a deep-dive into the world of a producer, the people who are often the unsung heroes of the film world, shepherding projects from early inception through to release, but not always seen as a crucial part of the process. Speakers include: Anthony Bregman (Likely Story) Karin Chien (Louverture Films), Carlo Cresto-Dina (tempesta film) and Lisa Marie Russo (Fly Film) and Screen International Editor Matt Mueller will moderate.

Sundance Institute is offering a special session in partnership with Adobe, which is free to pre-registered attendees via this link. Sundance Collab presents: Directors in Conversation will host an engaging discussion featuring three filmmakers from this year’s festival as they discuss their personal and creative journeys, the evolution of their projects, how they found and learned from their key collaborators, and what it took to bring their vibrant stories to life. Speakers include Charlotte Regan (wri/dir, Scrapper), Andrew Durham (Dir, Fairyland), Sam Osborn and Alejandra Vasquez (Co-Dirs, Going Varsity in Mariachi).

In addition, the Sundance Ignite programme presented by Adobe, will host an exclusive Q&A screening of Scrapper with director Charlotte Regan, for pre-registered 18-25-year-olds. Sundance Ignite identifies and supports new voices and talent from the next generation of filmmakers and fosters fresh audiences for independent storytelling. There is more information available here.

Industry Programme

The Festival will welcome experts from many sectors of the film industry including writers and directors, producers, funders, buyers and sellers – with more than 75 industry veterans already confirmed to speak. The Industry Programme is presented by United Airlines.

Newly confirmed industry speakers include producers Tristan Goligher and Mary Burke; casting agent Heather Basten, composer Nainita Desai, Elysian CEO Danny Perkins, A24 executives Harpa Manku and Tom Lazenby; filmmakers Alice Lowe, Zeina Durra, Gurinder Chadha and Marianna Palka, and Black Bear International’s Luane Gauer.

As previously announced, U.S. producer Anthony Bregman will deliver this year’s industry keynote talk. Bregman premiered three features at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival this past January: Flora and Son, Eileen and Sundance Film Festival: London’s Opening Night film, You Hurt My Feelings. Bregman, co-founder of New York-based production company Likely Story, has 50+ film credits including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Other guest speakers previously announced include Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente, Sundance Film Festival Director Eugene Hernandez, and Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming Kim Yutani; Mia Bays (BFI Film Fund); Farhana Bhula (Film4), Eva Yates (BBC Film), Andrew Orr (Sky Cinema) and Kristy Matheson (BFI Festivals).

Sundance London 2023 at Picturehouse Central. For full programme and information, see Sundance London on the Picturehouses website


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