Sundance London 2017: five brilliant films you probably didn’t know existed

But totally should

When it comes to cinema, most of the attention goes to superhero flicks and action blockbusters. But on several, vitally important dates in the film calendar, the world of indie rules.

Film festivals, like Sheffield Doc Fest or the glitzier Cannes, are important because they put the spotlight on movies that, for the average viewer, would normally slip the net. They give a much-needed financial boost to projects that otherwise wouldn’t get made. This makes Sundance London, happening at the capital’s Picturehouse Central this weekend, all the more exciting. Here are five films premiering that we couldn’t recommend more highly.

A Ghost Story

Probably the most high-profile film showing at Sundance London, A Ghost Story features Hollywood heavyweights Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. It’s the heartbreaking story of a musician who dies in a car accident, only to return to his partner’s home as, you guessed it, a ghost. What’s unique about Affleck’s performance is that he gives it almost entirely from beneath a flowing, white sheet. It’s method acting at its finest. Take that Daniel Day Lewis.

Beatriz At Dinner

You might know Salma Hayek from her questionable Robert Rodriguez collaborations of the late ’90s/early ’00s. But she’s much more than the cheesy, femme fatale roles of those movies. In Beatriz At Dinner she gives a sensitive, intense performance as Beatriz, a holistic medicine practitioner who attends a wealthy client’s dinner party after her car breaks down. Director Miguel Arteta’s short-but-powerful film is a window into the soul of a hard-working Mexican immigrant, and feels even more poignant given the current situation in Trump’s America. Seek it out.

Bushwick

What this fast-paced, interesting thriller lacks in intelligent dialogue, it makes up for with some of 2017’s most gripping action sequences. When a Texas military force invades their Brooklyn neighbourhood, 20-year-old Lucy (Brittany Snow) and war veteran Stupe (Dave Bautista) must depend on each other to survive. Snow’s performance is patchy at best, but Bautista is excellent and Lyle Vincent’s clever camerawork means the battle scenes feel ultra-immersive.

The Incredible Jessica James

Leading lady Jessica Williams is Jessica James, an aspiring playwright in New York who struggles to deal with a break-up before meeting someone new. Williams was actually a former correspondent on US programme The Daily Show, but has successfully made the tricky jump to acting look easy. Watch for the chance to see a young actor clearly destined for stardom.

sundance london

Crown Heights

The story of Colin Warner, wrongfully convicted of murder, Crown Heights follows the struggle to prove Warner’s innocence, led by best friend Carl King who dedicates his life to the task. It’s based on a true story and features a quite spellbinding performance from Lakeith Stanfield, whose status as an indie dark horse is strengthened still further. Buy tickets if you want emotional storytelling which sheds light on a serious and recurring problem in society.

Sundance London takes place June 1-4 at Picturehouse Central, London