Featuring fourteen UK film premieres over four days, alongside a host of exclusive music events, panels and discussions, the inaugural Sundance London festival lands at the O2 in Greenwich on Thursday 26th April.
Bringing the best of the Sundance Film Festival to the UK for the first time, festival founder Robert Redford will be kicking things off with a two hour Opening Night event, An Evening with Robert Redford and T Bone Burnett, joined on stage by the legendary music producer for a discussion on the relationship between film and music. The event will also feature performances by Glen Hansard (of Once fame) and Guillemots, interspersed with clips chosen by the various guests to highlight the transformative effect of music on the moving image.
It seems that the collaborative relationship between film and music is a trend that runs throughout the weekend’s proceedings, and not just in the concert performances from the likes of Tricky (who’ll be taking to the indigO2 stage for a rare performance of his album Maximquaye with Marina Topley-Bird) and Placebo, who also feature in the world premiere of concert film Coming Up For Air, and will be partaking in an extended post-screening Q&A. Music plays an integral part in both the documentary and fiction strands of the film programme, with Joe Berlinger’s profile of Paul Simon’s controversial Graceland sessions Under African Skies and LCD Soundsystem portrait SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS already as hot a ticket as Hip Hop-driven dramatic feature Filly Brown.
Perhaps the biggest draw that best exemplifies the various strands of the Festival will prove to be the world premiere of the documentary Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You : A Concert For Kate McGarrigle, followed by an intimate performance of their mother’s work by Rufus and Martha Wainwright. The duo will also be performing a stand-alone concert in the indigO2 space on Sunday afternoon.
Other special events at Sundance London include a Robert Redford introduced screening of documentary Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, which profiles the environmental work of The Prince of Wales and will be followed by an extensive post-film Q&A. There will also be a chance to catch the “better than Stand By Me” 80s Sundance classic River’s Edge, with director Tim Hunter and star Crispin Glover also in attendance.
There are some pretty terrific looking panel discussions over the course of the weekend, from the Documentary Flash Lab and extensively titled Film Music From the Composer’s Point of View : An Afternoon with Harry Gregson-Williams, to the intriguing Thinking Independently : UK versus US, which brings together panellists from both sides of the Atlantic (including Josh Radnor, Gurinder Chada, James Marsh and So Young Kim amongst others) to discuss the similarities and differences to be found in independent film production in the UK and USA.
I’ll be posting reviews of the fourteen features playing at Sundance London in the week leading up to the Festival as well as daily reports over the course of the weekend, but in the meantime, here’s a little information from the press release on each of the titles, more of which can be found on the Festival’s website at www.sundance-london.com or by clicking the hyperlinked titles.
2 Days in New York (Dir : Julie Delpy)
Marion has broken up with Jack and now lives in New York with their child. A visit from her family, the different cultural background of her new boyfriend, an ex-boyfriend who her sister is now dating, and her upcoming photo exhibition make for an explosive mix.
Cast : Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alex Nahon
Chasing Ice (Dir : Jeff Orlowski)
Science, spectacle and human passion mix in this stunningly cinematic portrait as National Geographic photographer James Balog captures time-lapse photography of glaciers over several years, providing tangible visual evidence of climate change. Winner of the Excellence in Cinematography Award : U.S. Documentary at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Filly Brown (Dir : Youssef Delara, Michael D. Olmos)
A Hip Hop-driven drama about a Mexican girl who rises to fame and consciousness through music as she copes with the incarceration of her mother.
Cast : Lou Diamond Phillips, Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera, Edward James Olmos
For Ellen (Dir : So Young Kim)
A struggling musician takes an overnight long-distance drive in order to fight his estranged wife for custody of their young daughter.
Cast : Paul Dano, Jon Heder, Jena Malone, Margarits Levieva, Shay Mandingo
The House I Live In (Dir : Eugene Jarecki)
For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world's largest jailer and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet, drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. Where did we go wrong and what is the path toward healing? Winner of the Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Documentary at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival
Liberal Arts (Dir : Josh Radnor)
Bookish and newly single Jesse Fisher returns to his alma mater for his favourite professor’s retirement dinner. A chance meeting with Zibby – a precocious classical music-loving sophomore – awakens in him long-dormant feelings of possibility and connection.
Cast : Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, John Magaro, Elizabeth Reaser.
LUV (Dir : Sheldon Candis)
An orphaned 11-year-old boy is forced to face the unpleasanttruth about his beloved uncle during one harrowing day in the streets of Baltimore.
Cast : Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton.
Nobody Walks (Dir : Ry Russo-Young)
Martine, a young artist from New York, is invited into the home of a hip, liberal LA family for a week. Her presence unravels the family’s carefully maintained status quo, and a mess of sexual and emotional entanglements ensues. Winner of the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Cast : John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga, Justin Kirk.
An Oversimplificationof Her Beauty (Dir : Terence Nance)
A quixotic young man humorously courses live action and various animated landscapes as he tries to understand himself after a mystery girl stands him up.
Cast : Terence Nance, Namik Minter, Chanelle Pearson.
The Queen of Versailles (Dir : Lauren Greenfield)
Jackie and David were triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America – a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace inspired by Versailles – when their timeshare empire falters due to the economic crisis. Their story reveals the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream. Winner of the Directing Award: U.S. Documentary at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Safety Not Guaranteed (Dir : Colin Trevorrow)
A trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad seeking a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and seeks to discover what he’s really up to. Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Cast : Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni.
SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS (Dir : Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace)
A film that follows LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy over a crucial 48 hour period, from the day of their final gig at Madison Square Garden to the morning after, the official end of one of the best live bands in the world.
Under African Skies (Dir : Joe Berlinger)
Paul Simon returns to South Africa to explore the incredible journey of his historic Graceland album, including the political backlash he sparked for allegedly breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa, designed to end Apartheid.
For more information on Sundance London and to book tickets, head to the Festival website at www.sundance-london.com