The Sundance Film Festival returns to London on 6-9 July 2023, with its best line-up yet, bringing the best of dynamic, exciting indie cinema - with the bonus of not having to slog through the snow to see it. Here, festival producer Wendy Mitchell talks to Clare Binns, managing director of Picturehouse, about their exciting plans for the 10th edition of the festival.
Wendy Mitchell: I didn’t go to Sundance in Utah in person in January, but I was lucky to watch about 28 films for Sundance Film Festival: London from my sofa and the film programme was very strong this year. You were there on the ground – how was it?
Clare Binns: There was an extra buzz because everyone was back together. There was a great range of films. One of my most exciting moments was seeing Gregg Araki at the Egyptian Theatre with The Doom Generation.
Wendy Mitchell: And now we’re luring the brilliant Gregg Araki to London!
Clare Binns: I’m very excited because he represents independent film in so many ways. He feels dangerous, and part of great independent cinema is pushing boundaries.
Wendy Mitchell: Let’s talk about our opening film, Scrapper. I was expecting a small gem, but this is a big gem. Not in terms of budget, but a new filmmaker, Charlotte Regan, with
a really big voice.
Clare Binns: You’re right about the big voice. You get that sense of confidence, that single-minded voice. Charlotte has said that so often films about housing estates can be quite miserable. Scrapper feels very positive with an incredibly touching story. I think Harris Dickinson is remarkable and makes a perfect pair with young Lola Campbell. It feels very genuine and very real.
Wendy Mitchell: I’ve always admired Harris Dickinson’s work and I think this might be my favourite performance of his. So, we owe him a glass of champagne on opening night. Do you want to mention another film in our selection that you particularly love?
Clare Binns: Celine Song’s Past Lives.
Wendy Mitchell: I’m glad you said Past Lives – so far it’s my favourite film of the year!
Clare Binns: I’m not a person that easily cries, but I got very close to it. It has that sense of how relationships change, and is so nuanced and so truthful. I think that’s a theme of our festival, there are a lot of films that have a great truth to them.
Wendy Mitchell: For the record I did cry a lot in Past Lives. I started crying about 20 minutes into the film because I already cared so much about these characters.
Clare Binns: I also wanted to give a shout out to Fantastic Machine, a documentary all about the use of imagery, from the moment the first photograph was ever taken until where we are now. There are some amazing moments; it’s a bit of a thrill ride. We’re trying to replicate in our London selection that broad range of films that Sundance screens in Utah.
Wendy Mitchell: I’m also delighted we have the second year of our Industry programme. My favourite story from 2022 is that Gurinder Chadha was talking at one of our brunches and met a young producer and later invited him to a script reading. It fills me with joy that people found real connections.
Clare Binns: When I looked around the room at those brunches or happy hours, there was such a diverse range of people, people starting out and people with lots of experience. I think it’s a great opportunity for people who want to work in the industry or want an opportunity to help others.
Wendy Mitchell: I’m also excited that our Industry programme welcomes so many different roles in the film world: directors, writers, producers, distributors, sales executives, agents, script supervisors.
Clare Binns: I want to see people using Sundance: London as a place to celebrate independent cinema and to get off their settees and start talking to each other. Sharing with other people is what Sundance is all about.
Sundance Film Festival: London will run 6–9 July 2023 at Picturehouse Central.
Keep track of the full line up with our SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: LONDON 2023 Letterboxd list.