The Sundance Film Festival: London has become a signature event for global film lovers. Festival programmer Clare Binns talks to us about this year’s line-up and the future of our film industry.

Why was London chosen as the second home for the Sundance Festival? 

London has always had an incredibly vibrant film scene and a healthy attitude when it comes to supporting independent film. There are so many people in our capital city who work hard to make sure that London’s cinema audiences always get to see exciting, adventurous storytelling on screen. I think that the independent spirit which we nourish here in the UK makes London a brilliant fit for Sundance.  

What has been your favourite film from Sundance: London in recent years? 

I can’t say I have an out-and-out favourite, but last year we all loved having Debra Granik over for the spirited Leave No Trace. Beyond its successful premiere at Sundance London, I was also pleased to see audiences show up when the film was released to cinemas in the UK. It is subtle, affecting, wonderfully composed and definitely high up on my list from last year. 

What are some of the new films showing at this year’s festival that you are most excited about? 

There’s quite a few that I’m really excited for our audiences to see. The Last Tree (pictured) by sophomore director Shola Amoo is bold, distinctive and another opportunity for us to showcase British talent. Late Night gives us Emma Thompson in  hilarious top form, and Ask Dr. Ruth is a classic Sundance documentary. I would place quite a deal of money on the fact that audiences will fall in love with its charismatic titular character, a 90-something year old
sex therapist.  

The UK’s cinema industry, and indeed the production industry, relies heavily on international subsidies and ties. How do you see both of these industries in a post-Brexit world? 

I think it’s too early to accurately say yet what a post-Brexit world will look like for the film industry from an exhibition and production perspective. Each side of the business, will of course, have their own concerns and we’re right to be worried when facing this uncertainty. At this point though all I think we can say is that we’ll likely be talking about the ramifications of Brexit negotiations upon all of our industries for quite a while to come. 

And finally, for someone who might be looking at attending Sundance London for the first time – what would you say to them and do you have any advice on how to get the best Sundance experience? 

Without a doubt the best way to experience the festival is to dive in and buy a pass. We have options at various price points this year from an all-access VIP pass to a Festival Pass-Lite. For me, film festivals are all about experiencing as much as you can in a short space of time. At Sundance: London we have drinks receptions, parties, panels and plenty of networking opportunities with the Sundance Utah and London teams. That’s all on top of a schedule of first-class screenings to occupy you all weekend long! 

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