Priya Kansara appears in “Polite Society” by Nida Manzoor, in the Midnight section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Parisa Taghizadeh.
By Patty Consolazio
Hollywood may reign as Tinseltown, but the cameras are clearly rolling in every corner of the globe, as demonstrated by this year’s Sundance Film Festival lineup, featuring independent films representing 50-plus countries on six continents.
This list explores 2023 Festival films set in the United Kingdom. The bar is already set high here; after all, what would the world be without the likes of Bend It Like Beckham, Kinky Boots, or Lady MacBeth, to name a few?
This year’s U.K. selections go heavy on the feel-good factor, assuring generous doses of “wickedly funny,” “irresistible,” and “vibrant” moments, but filmgoers looking for something different may respond to promises of an “anarchic mashup of genres” (Polite Society), or perhaps an invitation to join writer-director Ella Glendining on an “unforgettable experience” as she documents her own life journey in a body that, by her own account, is like no other.
The lineup follows — and, incidentally, single film tickets go on sale January 12, so save yourself a seat!
Scrapper (World Dramatic) — Resourceful 12-year-old Georgie lives alone in a London-outskirts flat. She makes money stealing bikes with her friend, Ali, and keeps the social workers off her back by pretending to live with an uncle. It works like a charm until her father shows up — so long estranged that she doesn’t recognize him. A vibrant, joyful, imaginative story full of flourish, aesthetic energy, and even talking spiders. Available in person and online.
Is There Anybody Out There? (World Documentary) — While navigating daily discrimination, filmmaker Ella Glendining, who inhabits and loves her unusual body, searches the world for another person like her, and explores what it takes to love oneself fiercely despite the pervasiveness of ableism. Available in person and online.
Rye Lane (Premieres) — Dom and Yas’ paths collide at the least opportune time: when Dom is ugly-crying in a toilet stall, steeling himself for an awkward meal with his ex, who cheated on him with his best friend. Nursing her own breakup wounds, freewheeling Yas decides to jump headfirst into the fray to lessen the sting as Dom’s date. What follows is a day of impulsive and joyous mayhem, as the pair deal with their nightmare exes and connect over the course of an eventful day in London. Available in person.
Polite Society (Midnight) — Ria Khan is determined to become a world-renowned stuntwoman. She’s crushed when her big sister, Lena, drops out of art school, starts dating Salim, and announces, after barely a month, that they plan to marry and move from London to Singapore! Ria realizes that something isn’t right, leaving her no choice but to enlist her friends in a daring mission to kidnap Lena from her own wedding. Available in person.
Girl (World Dramatic) — Mother-daughter duo Grace and Ama have a deep bond that’s protected them from outsiders, but as they start anew in Glasgow, things begin to change. Ama’s burgeoning puberty and curiosity set off reminders of a past that 24-year-old Grace has been running from. The comforting fairy tale–like origin story that Grace has been telling Ama for years is interrupted by flashbacks of her painful past, and their sheltered world begins to erode from the inside. Available in person and online.