Tag Archives: Sundance London

Filmmaker Lulu Wang talks laughing through the tears

When Lulu Wang’s The Farewell premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in January, the praise was near-unanimous. A tragicomic drama rooted in its writer-director’s own real-life experiences, it begins with the words: “Based on an actual lie.”

The film sees a young Chinese-American woman, Billi (Awkwafina), return to China when her beloved grandmother, Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao), is given a terminal diagnosis. There, she struggles with her family’s decision to keep Grandma in the dark about what’s happening, while they promptly schedule a wedding for Billi’s cousin – so that everyone can be together one final time before Nai Nai’s imminent deterioration.

While keeping loved ones unaware of their serious illnesses is apparently common practice in China, doing so presents difficulties for Billi when it comes to making sense of her grief. Although born in China, she moved to the United States with her parents when she was still very young; with this ‘lie’, the cultural divide is laid bare…

Full interview for HUCK

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David Lowery on ‘A Ghost Story’, life after death and loving ‘Under the Skin’

David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is quite unlike most spectre-based tales you’ll have seen onscreen. For one thing, while there’s definitely haunting going on, it’s no horror film. Told in a series of slow-going sustained takes, it starts off as a tender romance before taking on paranormal qualities, eventually veering into sci-fi territory best left unspoiled.

Casey Affleck plays a white-sheeted ghost (no, really), who declines entry to an apparent afterlife and returns to his Texas home to see his bereft wife (Rooney Mara), whom he cannot communicate with. As his love moves on, this spectral figure finds himself unstuck in time, trapped on the land of his former home, forced to witness years of changes in inhabitants and surroundings…

Full interview for SciFiNow

Michael Showalter on ‘The Big Sick’

“I think the writing and directing is more natural for me; it’s a more comfortable place.” The Skinny is talking to Michael Showalter, the American comedian, actor, producer, writer and director, ahead of the international premiere of his latest directorial effort, The Big Sick, at the Sundance London film festival. “And I suppose,” he continues, “it’s just been a natural journey. As you get more serious about it, you sort of figure out what part of the process you like the most, and I really like being behind the camera the most. The writing process, the whole production side of it is really where I’ve found the most enjoyment…”

Full interview for The Skinny

Marianna Palka on ‘Bitch’, ‘GLOW’ & feminist films

The Skinny is chatting to Marianna Palka, the Scottish writer, director and actor, who’s fresh off the close of the Sundance London film festival where her latest directorial effort, Bitch, has just played. Glasgow-born though largely US-based since her teens, Palka has her “finger in both pies”, as she describes it, regarding filmmaking in her two home countries. “I’m always working on getting stuff done in Scotland and getting stuff done in America at the same time,” she says, “so it’s kind of like whatever happens first happens. But there’s many plans to do many things here that are really exciting…

Full interview for The Skinny

A Snapshot of American Independent Cinema in 2017

Returning for its fifth instalment (and second in a row at the lavish Picturehouse Central), the team behind this year’s Sundance London gave British audiences a flavour of the American indie scene of 2017. As well as bringing together UK, European or international premieres of various buzzy titles that made their initial bow at the main Sundance Film Festival back in January, this year also offered big screen revivals of some past Sundance premieres of note (Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape among them) and the first instance of a surprise film (Patti Cake$, out on general release this autumn), as well as the usual shorts programme and filmmaker talks.

This year’s main lineup was a mixed bag quality-wise, and it certainly didn’t look great that only one of the 14 premiering features (Marianna Palka’s Bitch) was directed by a woman – last year had three, including closing film Tallulah. That said, the strongest titles were very strong, and there was definitely variety to the stories and filmmaking styles on display. The Skinny caught the vast majority of this year’s feature lineup, so here’s an unranked top five of some of the most notable or distinctive films on offer, some of which will be arriving in UK cinemas or on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime soon…

Full feature for The Skinny

“They really care about cinema”: Matt Ruskin talks Amazon, ‘Crown Heights’ and Jeff Sessions

Crown Heights was one of the most buzzed-about films to get picked up by Amazon at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s hardly surprising, given the horrific case of real-life injustice at the centre of its story. Colin Warner (played in the film by Lakeith Stanfield), a Trinidadian, New York-based man, was convicted in the early 1980s for a murder he had absolutely no part in, with almost nothing in the way of evidence, even with the actual guilty party apprehended and also sentenced. Warner got 15 years to life, and was only released after 21 years thanks to the efforts of his friend on the outside, Carl King (played in the film by former NFL player Nnamdi Asomugha), who devoted his life to exposing the shoddiness of the initial case that sent Warner away.

Although Crown Heights is currently in search of a UK theatrical distributor, it’s screening at Sundance London this weekend. We sit down with Matt Ruskin – who wrote, directed and co-produced the film – to discuss bringing a 21-year spanning story to the screen, how his subjects feel about the finished film, his experience with Amazon, and the orange elephant in the room that is the Trump administration…

Full interview for VODzilla.co

A Snapshot of American Independent Cinema in 2016

After taking a year off in 2015, the team behind Sundance London returned this year to give UK audiences a snapshot of what’s cooking on the American indie scene, with the lavish Picturehouse Central acting as the festival’s new hub for UK or European premieres of some of the buzziest titles to have emerged from Sundance in January. Here’s an unranked top five of our highlights of what we did manage to catch, some of which will be arriving in UK cinemas soon…

Full feature for The Skinny