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Tallulah | © Maiden Voyage
Tallulah | © Maiden Voyage
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Explore Sundance Film Festival’s Top Screenings

Picture of Johanna Gill
Updated: 4 May 2016
The Sundance Film Festival is a showcase and celebration of the authenticity, originality and diversity of voice reflected in independent film. The festival is coming to Picturehouse Central this June, bringing the best of the annual festival from across the pond. Opening its doors with 1,000 seats, seven screens and three café bars, including a rooftop terrace, Sundance Film Festival shows a promising programme of international and UK premieres. Culture Trip London looks at the festival’s main features.

Author: The JT LeRoy Story

Sundance will feature the international premiere of the documentary looking inside the mysterious case of 16-year-old literary sensation JT LeRoy, a creature so perfect for his time, that if he didn’t exist, someone would have had to invent him. In fact, this isjust what 40 year-old punk rocker and phone sex operator Laura Albert did. The documentary reveals how Albert breathed words and life into her avatar for a decade, and the intricate web spun by irrepressible creative forces within her. Her extended LeRoy performance still infuriates many, whereas for Albert this was the only possible path to self-expression.

4 – 5 June 2016: Saturday 8.30PM, Sunday 5.45PM

Author: JT LeRoy Story | © A&E IndieFilms
Author: JT LeRoy Story | © A&E IndieFilms

Goat

The Andrew Neel film follows a college kid who rushes his brother’s fraternity to reclaim his fraternity – to brutal result. It is based on Brad Land’s harrowing anti-hazing memoir about a 19 year-old Ohio teen who is abducted and beaten by thugs after a frat party, only to find himself undergoing even more demeaning abuse during Hell Week the following fall. Reducing the plot down to essential details but focusing on the humiliation and the horror of the hazing scene, the movie is shot by Ethan Palmer in a loose, unfussy style with a lot of handheld camerawork; the experience is conveyed with scalding authenticity. The rituals in Goat are an expression of physical, mental and sexual dominance and the movie demonstrates how young men receive violence and how they put it back in the world.

3 & 5 June 2016: Friday 4PM, Sunday 6PM

Indignation

Indignation is a 2016 American drama film directed and written by James Schamus and based on the Philip Roth novel Indignation (2008). The film is set mostly in Ohio in the early 1950s in the second year of the Korean War, and is about Jewish college student Marcus Messner, who describes his sophomore year at Winesburg College in Ohio. Escaping his father, a kosher butcher who is in fear about the dangers in adult life and the uncertainty that awaits his son, Marcus becomes infatuated with his fellow student Olivia Hutton, a survivor of a suicide attempt. For a brief moment, their lives converge in this emotionally soaring film.

4 – 5 June 2016: Saturday 6PM, Sunday 1.15PM

Indignation | © Bing Feng Bao Entertainment
Indignation | © Bing Feng Bao Entertainment

The Intervention

The=is 2016 American comedy-drama film, written and directed by Clea DuVall in her directorial debut, shows a group of 30-something friends who gather at an expansive family summer residence outside Savannah. They haven’t met for some years, as life got in the way of what had been an annual event. However, Annie organised a reunion with one mission in mind, yet unknown to the target. She is determined that her friends Ruby and Peter should be urged to divorce to get out of their misery, as they’ve reached the point where everything each one does strikes the other as insufferable. But when the couple finds out about the secret mission, they aren’t too pleased. While the tone does gradually get darker, DuVall never abandons humor entirely in The Intervention.

3 – 4 June 2016: Friday 7PM, Saturday 9PM

The Intervention | © Burn Later Productions
The Intervention | © Burn Later Productions

Life, Animated

Life, Animated is a documentary based on Ron Suskind’s best selling book Life Animated: a story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism. The real life story of Owen Suskind, the son of Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind and his wife Cornelia, who was diagnosed with autism, this film depicts his struggle to speak. Memorising dozens of Disney movies, Owen turned them into a language to express love and loss, kinship and brotherhood. The family was forced to become animated characters, communicating with him in Disney dialogue and song. The documentary is the story of how a family reconnected and grew together through their son’s affinity and also reveals how, in darkness, we all need stories to survive.

3 – 4 June 2016: Friday 6.30PM, Saturday 4PM

Morris From America

This is a warm portrait of an African-American teenager adjusting uneasily to his new life in Heidelberg, Germany. When 13 year-old Morris, a black Richmond raised teen, moves to Germany with his father Curtis, who has a new job coaching the local soccer team there, his affinity to pulsing hip-hop music fuels his dreams and offers him refuge in a place that can seem friendly and threatening by turns. Morris makes an effort to change the latter by taking German lessons from a big-sister like tutor, Inka. Things perk up when the lonesome boy catches they eye of pretty 15 year-old Katrin, who invites him to a summer party and treats him better than the others. This coming-of-age dramedy explores how the challenges of being young, black and misunderstood can be compounded in a foreign environment.

3 & 5 June 2016: Friday 8.30PM, Sunday 1.30PM

Morris From America | © Beachside Films
Morris From America | © Beachside Films

Other People

When David’s dreams of success as a New York comedy writer only led to rejection, the 29 year-old gay man returns to Sacramento, feeling an obligation to care for his mother, who’s in advanced stages of Leiomyosarcoma. Being home is further complicated by his conservatively religious family and his father’s refusal to accept his sexuality, even 10 years after he came out. Not wanting to give his mother another reason to die unhappy, he keeps under wraps the fact that he also recently broke up with his boyfriend of five years. The strong-willed Joanne struggles through chemo and decides to quit treatment and starts to decline. Other People follows David through the next year of his life as he deals with his mother’s cancer, navigates his way through being gay in Sacramento, and tries to find some peace with a father who makes it impossible.

3 – 4 June 2016: Friday 4.30PM, Saturday 7PM

Other People | © Gettin' Rad Productions
Other People | © Gettin' Rad Productions

Tallulah

Lu and her boyfriend Nico are modern-day hobos, living in a beat-up van and driving aimlessly around the country, dumpster diving and stealing from strangers. When Nico clears out suddenly after an argument, Tallulah, aka Lu, heads to New York to look for him at his family home. She can’t find her boyfriend at the Manhattan apartment, where his mother lives alone. While trawling the hallways of a fancy hotel in search of half-eaten room-service meals, Lu meet Carolyn, a wife on a mission to have an affair to bolster her failing sense of self-worth. She has brought along her one year-old daughter Madison for cover and, used to having a nanny, she lures Lu into babysitting for the evening. When Carolyn comes home drunk and passes out, Lu takes Madison with her when she leaves. Pretending that the child is hers and Nico’s, she returns to her boyfriend’s mother for help.

2 & 5 June 2016: Thursday 7PM, Sunday 3.30PM

Tallulah | © Maiden Voyage
Tallulah | © Maiden Voyage

Weiner

Directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg present an examination of disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign and of today’s political landscape. The documentary starts with Weiner’s rise as a young Congressman who became a cable-news staple for his impassioned speeches. After a huge scandal – he accidentally tweeted a sexual text and photo to all his followers – Weiner eventually admits to have had sexual conversations with several women. He resigned from Congress shortly after, but attempted political rehabilitation in 2013, when he announces his bid to become mayor of New York City. For a time it looked like a possibility, as he seemed to get oxygen from campaigning, but when new photos emerge and with them new women willing to talk about their relationship, the campaign implodes. However, Steinberg and Kriegman’s camera access doesn’t waver and they get to film personal as well as revealing scenes.

4 – 5 June 2016: Saturday 6.45PM, Sunday 3.15PM

Wiener-Dog

The story follows a dachshund, or wiener dog, through a series of owners hailing from various stages of life. In each situation, however, the dog’s passive role stands in contrast to the troubled characters, all of whom seem resigned to their fates. Elegantly shot by cinematographer Edward Lachman, Wiener-Dog combines surrealism with deadpan humor, even when it’s not exactly funny. Director Todd Solondz has targeted the vanity of attempting to live with purpose and his movie reflects an outright frustration with the creative process. The dog travels from being a gift from a father for his nine year-old boy, who gets the dog inadvertently, to a lonely vet-tech who nurses the pooch to health. During the movie, four different characters are followed as Wiener-Dog finds her way into their lives.

3 – 4 June 2016: Friday 9.30PM, Saturday 3.30PM

Wiener-Dog | © Anapurna Pictures
Wiener-Dog | © Anapurna Pictures

The Greasy Strangler

The Los Angeles set tale follows Big Ronnie, an old man giving disco tours with his middle-aged, browbeaten son Brayden. One of their clients is the sexy, alluring woman Janet, who starts flirting with Brayden and soon the two begin dating. When his father also tries to get her attention, it starts a competition between the two. In the meantime, an oily, slimy, inhuman maniac is stalking the streets at night and strangling innocent people – soon dubbed the ‘Greasy Strangler’. The father-son comedy makes an outrageously off-kilter feature film debut that is equally disgusting, offensive and manically entertaining. Featuring performances by Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, and Elizabeth De Razzo, The Greasy Strangler also enlists a dream team of talent behind the camera, including a few of the most prominent genre film producers from across the globe for this triumph of the bizarre.

3 – 4 June 2016: Friday 9.15PM, Saturday 9.30PM

The Greasy Strangler | © Drafthouse Films
The Greasy Strangler | © Drafthouse Films

All screenings will take place at Picturehouse Central.

Picturehouse Central, Piccadilly, London, W1D 7HD