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Sundance Festival: London 2018

This year, Sundance Festival: London opens for its third season and showcases a powerful, star-studded showcase of independent film. Deputy managing director of Picturehouse is the woman helping to bring the stars and the best of independent film to the masses.

“Our opening night film, The Tale, is an amazing film. It’s cinematic, intense and dramatic and this is the only chance to see the movie in the cinema as it’s an HBO film. It features an extraordinary performance by Laura Dern as a female coming to terms with her abusive past,” explains Clare.

The festival runs from 31 May to 3 June at Picturehouse Central and amid the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, Sundance Festival: London is championing female voices with 58 per cent of the films showcased directed by women, along with a sterling array of female leads, writers and producers across the line-up.

“Hosting Sundance London is an opportunity to be a part of the debate, see some great films and meet and talk to the filmmakers. I can’t tell you what a thrill it is for me to know that people who are coming to see the films that are playing can sit there and listen to the director about why they made the film. Or how we can have three female filmmakers in conversation talking about their experiences of making films. How cool is that! And if I was 25 I would be running to the cinema as fast as my legs could carry me,” Clare continues.

“When I went to Sundance in Utah this year, we didn’t have to try very hard to have a female focus for our London programme because there were just so many great films there with strong female roles, with female directors and writers,” Clare explains. “It was pretty much a no brainer. Sundance has never been very male focused, it’s always been very inclusive and nurtured talent.”

Among the special guests and filmmakers attending the weekend is Toni Collette, star of this year’s Time Out gala film, Hereditary, who will participate in a post-screening Q&A. The festival will also continue its tradition of supporting local British talent with the UK premiere of Idris Elba’s directorial debut, Yardie.

In addition to the opening film The Tale, the festival will feature the UK premiere of Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post, the winner of the US Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at January’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah; Skate Kitchen, an original tale of female skateboarders and the narrative debut of Crystal Moselle; and Augustine Frizzel’s debut, comedy Never Goin’ Back. Aubrey Plaza stars alongside Emile Hirsch and Jermaine Clement in Jim Hosking’s (The Greasy Strangler) comedy, An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn.

The strong female element of Sundance Festival: London comes at a pivotal moment for the film industry.

“When the whole Harvey Weinstein scandal blew up it allowed women to come out and say ‘we’ve had enough of this’. We’ve had enough of being treated a certain way in an industry that has been very much dominated by powerful men,” she continues. “Harvey Weinstein was a wake-up call. Studios are now beginning to say ‘we’ve got to get our house in order’. People who are now running the business want to have a much more diverse and equal representation of the world.

“People who haven’t had the chance or opportunity to get behind the camera and tell their stories are now being given a voice. And these stories are actually the ones that people want to hear. And are the stories that need to be told, ” Clare continues.

Idris Elba, a long supporter of British film, chose Sundance Festival: London for the UK premiere of his directorial debut. “He’s always been such a great supporter. And British film is now attracting such amazing talent. It’s a very exciting time in cinema and film,” Clare adds.

Based in south west London, Clare started her career as an usher at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton and was recently named one of Variety’s 25 people driving the London entertainment scene.

“I think it’s really important to have the kind of cinemas that are not just showing Dead Pool but that are showing Dead Pool and On Chesil Beach and documentaries and a big range of films,” she enthuses.

With its Clapham, Dulwich, and Brixton Picturehouses ready for another summer of great film and art – with live performances from the Royal Ballet, among others – and reams of independent films and blockbusters, there seems no better time to head to the cinema.

“Over the last 40 or so years I’ve made it my mission to give people the same chances that I have had to see the incredible independent films being made around the world,” Clare concludes.

Sundance Festival: London runs from 31 May to 3 June.

Laura Dern