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Sundance London 2018

Sundance London 2018

May 31, 2018

It is that time of the year when London turns back to American Indie films. Six years after Sundance London first edition, Festival Director John Cooper continues to ask Londoners to "take a chance on American Indie films".

The festival is a small version of its Utah edition, that runs every year in January. The selection of the films does not necessarily come from the ones that won the awards. The Sundance Festival senior programmer, David Courier, together with Cooper, Director of Programming Kim Yutani and the Director of Programming and Acquisitions for Picturehouse Clare Binns choose the stories they think are more compelling to Londoners.

Amayzing Movies have seen them all and we picked up the creme de la creme for you!

The Tale

May 31, 2018

The Tale (Jennifer Fox, 2017)                                                         Y

One of the most compelling stories based on true facts ever to have made into a movie.

Laura Dern is Jennie, a documentarian professor who is in search of her own truth and past. As a teacher, Jennie knows that "we all tell ourselves stories in order to live" and sometimes memory betrays us. As a woman, though, she is intrigued how little she remembers of a fine summer season she spent away from her family, in the country, riding horses. 

The narrative is essentially a clever game with the audience, constantly challenging us all to identify what is true and what do Jennie and the other characters remember and/or hide. As Jennie goes deeper into her memories, she reestablishes contact with Mrs. G., her former riding trainer, and other girls who also spent the summer together. Jennie then discovers what caused her trauma, and decides to face it.



May 31, 2018

Yardie (Idris Elba, 2017)                                                         Y

Yardie might have little to do with American Indie film and more to do with the BFI policy to portray people with BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) background on the screen. And indeed black British community is anxious to identify themselves with the cinematographic figures they see. So much so that there was a huge demand during the casting process of the feature. (You can read more about it here.)

On his debut as a director, Idris Elba chose to tell the story of the Caribbean immigrants in London in the 80s, by picking up the life of a drug dealer. 

Astonishingly beautiful, the photography of the film is saturated as a modern advertisement, but the film fails to give black people a less stereotypical dimension. Yardie has many similarities with City of Gods (Fernando Meirelles, 2002), from the camerawork to the frozen close-ups, from the use of the soundtrack to the frenetic rhythm.

Skate Kitchen

October 31, 2017

Skate Kitchen (Crystal Moselle, 2017)

Writer and director Crystal Moselle (The Wolfpack, 2015) immersed herself in the lives of skaters girls. Although Moselle does not consider Skate Kitchen a documentary, its structure is as free as a doc should be, as it is open to casualties. For instance, the choice of the locations in New York is simply where the real skaters use to go.

The fluidity and naturality of the feature are what attracts the spectator since the very beginning. The film certainly reveals a fresh view on girlhood and their issues, including sexuality and sense of belonging to a group. 

After the impact that The Wolfpack caused, Moselle settles herself as one of the most creative storytellers of American contemporary cinema, bringing into light a hidden universe.  

First Reformed

May 31, 2018

First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017)                                                         Y

First Reformed is presented at Sundance London as a special screening within the festival. Starring Ethan Hawke (Reverend Ernst Toller) as a priest who undergoes a crisis of faith after the loss of his son. The thing is that Rev. Ernst Toller is asked to support an environmental activist whose wife is pregnant. How to encourage someone to face his demons when yourself is failing to face your own? 

This drama could be viewed as a companion piece to the classic Taxi Driver (Marty Scorsese, 1976), also written by Schrader, for Toller starts to behave as strangely as Travis (De Niro in Taxi Driver).

There is rarely any bright color in the movie, and there are many shadows and dark scenes, so to cause the sensation that we are in a gothic church. The dull and unpleasant routine of a preacher is transformed into a magnetic and inspirational transformation, as Toller becomes more and more intolerant towards the institutions that surround him.  

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