TGIM! Sundance London
For more than thirty years, the Sundance Film Festival has been a beacon of cinematic excellence in the otherwise erratic cultural landscape of the American Midwest. Originally conceived as a way to bring more filmmakers to Utah, it has grown into the centrepiece of a huge and much-valued organisation which tirelessly promotes independent film both in the States and abroad. And this week, for the first time ever, it’s crossing the pond and coming to London!
From Thursday, the inaugural Sundance London will be presenting a multidisciplinary selection of independent film, music and art to what will certainly be a varied and passionate audience. The O2 centre is being taken over by Redford and his pals – the Host Committee includes such luminaries as Danny Boyle, Helen Mirren, Idris Elba, Richard Ayoade and Paddy Considine – and used as the venue for fourteen of the most well-received films from the last full Sundance Film Festival, plus a plethora of short films, panels and much more besides. We’re particularly excited about 2 Days in New York, Julie Delpy’s follow-up to 2 Days in Paris – now with added Chris Rock! – and the chilling short Robots in Brixton, a sci-fi take on the South London district’s riotous past.
There’s plenty of room for more fantastic fare, but Sundance London’s commitment to incisive and culturally-relevant films has never been stronger. When they can tear themselves away from live acts including Placebo and Rufus & Martha Wainwright, music fans will be keen to track down screenings of the frenetic concert film SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS (the epitaph of sadly deceased dance group LCD Soundsystem). Those with longer musical memories will relish Under African Skies Joe Berlinger’s incisive exploration of Paul Simon’s seminal album Graceland and its effect on the anti-apartheid movement. For once, though, we’ll be abandoning the screens in favour of trip hop pioneer Tricky’s reunion performance with Martina Topley-Bird, his ex and the lead vocalist on his debut album Maxinquaye – the pair have not performed together in fifteen years, so miss this at your peril.
Tickets have been selling fast, but Sundance London has brought more than film reels across the Atlantic. New and popular innovations such as the Cinema and Music Cafés – both hosting unticketed talks, panels and performances throughout each day of the festival – have proved their mettle in Utah and are being rolled out for the London festival too. And don’t forget that this isn’t just a US production – the first ever Sundance London Short Film Competition has been won by Extranjero, a five minute film by two North Londoners, and we can’t wait to see how they caught the attention of the judges. And, you know, there’s a film about a bloke talking to a whale. Standard.
Finally – and we really can’t stress this enough – Sundance London is only four days long, and it starts on Thursday. Stop reading this, check the website for tickets and get down to the O2, stat. We’ll see you there.