Sundance film festival ’18: Our top picks for the festival’s London edition

30th May 2018

The Sundance Film Festival '18: London gets underway this weekend (31st May – 2nd June), with a select group of films picked as the cream of the crop from this year’s screenings at its namesake festival, held in Utah earlier this year. The offshoot of Robert Redford’s iconic festival is back for a long weekend to ensure June gets off to a good start, with a range of screenings that will likely shake up anyone’s top ten films of the year so far. What marks this year’s festival out from its predecessors is the fact that seven of out the twelve films screening this weekend are directed by women, a deliberate choice made by the festival organisers in the era of #MeToo
Here’s just some of the most hotly-anticipated films on show this weekend:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post: This not only won over Sundance audiences, but also grabbed one of the festival’s top prizes, the US dramatic grand jury prize – an award previously won by Whiplash, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Winter’s Bone. This is the second feature film effort from Desiree Akhavan (following the incredible Appropriate Behaviour), who described the project as a ‘queer John Hughes film’. When Chloe Grace Moretz (playing the titular Cameron) is caught having sex with the prom queen, she is sent to a Christian-based gay conversion camp, to ‘pray away the gay’. The film, which is an adaptation of the best-selling novel from Emily Danforth, charts Cameron’s life in camp and takes a closer look at teenagers trying to figure themselves out while navigating a camp that tries to condemn their lifestyle.

Hereditary:One of the most hyped horror movies in recent years, with trailers already hitting UK cinemas proclaiming the film to be ‘this generation’s Exorcist’. Despite the soaring levels of expectation, Hereditary still manages to blow away every single festival audience it has come across. The haunting film follows the story of a family tragedy that suddenly veers into the realm of the supernatural, the occult, and the disturbing. Toni Collette leads as a woman whose family life turns upside down following the death of her mother. Expect sleepless nights in this contemporary revamp of horror’s traditional staples.

First Reformed: A late addition to the festival roster but critics who watched the film at Sundance remarked that this was the film Paul Schrader was born to make. This austere drama-thriller tracks a middle-aged priest (Ethan Hawke) who faces a crisis of faith that quickly spirals out of control following an encounter with a pregnant wife (Amanda Seyfried). Very little of the plot has been given away, but expect a daring and profound portrayal of faith and politics.

Leave No Trace: From the director of Winter’s Bone, this film follows a similar story of a father and daughter trying to make it in the wilderness. Just as the former film discovered Jennifer Lawrence, this has found yet another young talented actress in Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie. The father and daughter pairing try to weave their way from the reach of authority in a quest to find a place they can call home.

Eighth Grade: This film become a crowd favourite at the Utah festival, as Bo Burnham charts the trials and tribulations of thirteen-year-old Kayla as she tries to make it through the last week of middle school. Expect a charming, funny and very human portrait of this awkward, insecure time of youth not often given the respect it deserves on screen.

Tickets are available here.
Words by Oliver Smith @oliisaac_.
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