CODA, The Sparks Brothers lead Sundance London 2021 line-up
James R | On 02, Jun 2021
CODA, snapped up by Apple TV+ at this year’s Sundance, is heading to London for the UK edition of the film festival.
Sundance London, which went online last year during the coronavirus pandemic, will not be following the footsteps of other festivals and hosting a hybrid version for 2021. However, it will include in its big screen showcase of titles from the Utah event one of the festival’s biggest acquisitions: Sian Heder’s CODA, which won the Best Director in the US Dramatic section of the festival and was snapped up by Apple for release on Apple TV+ later this year.
Running from 29th July to 1st August at Picturehouse Central in London, Sundance London will feature a total of 15 films, opening 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.
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.”
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, 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. CODA, 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, while trying to keep up at school. Dash Shaw’s Cryptozoo is a mythical animation centring 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, with performances from Jude Law and Carrie Coon. 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 Sundance this year with warm-hearted comedy Together Together, having previously screened Stockholm, Pennsylvania at the 2015 edition. The film stars Ed Helms alongside newcomer Patti Harrison.
The London edition will also 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.
Other documentaries include: Misha and The Wolves, directed by feature debut duo Rintu Tomas and Sushmit Ghosh, which acts as a 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 World, a thoughtful and quietly devastating meditation on obsession, trauma, and the cost of fame, telling the story of Björn Andrésen; and Nanfu Wang’s In The Same Breath, which builds a damning indictment of Chinese and American leadership’s response to the pandemic.
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 line-up comes from director Carson Young in the form of horror-fantasy hybrid, The Blazing World, based 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 – a selection 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, and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death chosen and introduced by Censor director Prano Bailey Bond.
Panel discussions will include Scare Tactics – Making Modern Horror, and Shaping the Truth: Discussing Documentary Ethics and Filmmaking. 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. Three films will show in cinemas across the UK – The Nest, Writing With Fire and Zola.
Tickets start from £14.20 for an adult, with a pass available for £130 (10 films) or £75 (5 films). Passes are available to book from today, with tickets on sale to Picturehouse Members and Sundance Film Festival Ticket Passholders from 9am on Friday 4th June to members of the public from 9am on Monday 7th June.