The Sundance Film Festival arrives in London at the end of next month. To put it mildly, it’ll be different from the real thing. No snow on the ground, no screenings in high school halls or public libraries. No one will suffer from altitude sickness, and there’ll be a distinct shortage of glorious ski slopes in the vicinity. But the spirit of the festival should survive the journey across the pond.
A total of 14 films that featured at this year’s festival in Park City will be screened at the massive O2 Arena in east London over four days from April 26. This marks the first open attempt by Sundance, founded by Robert Redford, to lure British fans of American independent films.
But festival director John Cooper and director of programming Trevor Groth insist their London venture was more than an attempt to extend the Sundance brand.
"What we’re trying to do is further our support for US independent filmmakers in a place outside the US,” Cooper explained. “So the 14 films we’re presenting in London aren’t necessarily the ‘best’ from Sundance 2012. They represent a real cross-section of the kind of work we support. We have feature films, documentaries and a programme of short films.”
Happily, January’s Sundance boasted many strong entries. Hot titles bound for London include the Lauren Greenfield’s riches-to-rags doc opener "The Queen of Versailles" and Eugene Jarecki’s "The House I Live In," a searing condemnation of the war on drugs.
Other titles include "Two Days in New York," "Chasing Ice," "Filly Brown," "Finding North," "Liberal Arts," "LUV," Nobody Walks," "An Oversimplification of Her Beauty," "Shut Up and Play the Hits," "Under African Skies," "For Ellen" and "Safety Not Guaranteed."
There’s a strong emphasis on music in Sundance London; British artists Placebo, Tricky and Martina Topley-Bird will perform live. Cooper said this was at Redford’s insistence: “He likes the idea of artists from different disciplines getting together.”
On the festival’s opening day Redford will join novelist Nick Hornby ("Fever Pitch," "High Fidelity") on stage with record producer and film composer T-Bone Burnett for a discussion on the role of music in movies.