By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com March 24, 2014 at 9:40AM
For the last few years, the Sundance hasn't just been in Utah in January: as of 2012, the most famous independent film festival in the world has been crossing the pond for an extended weekend in April for Sundance London. Bringing a few highlights from January's Park City festival, along with a few surprises (the fest has a particular emphasis on music), it takes place at the 02 in London's Greenwich, and has been a pretty nifty little time when we've attended in the past, with a good chance for UK audiences to catch films weeks, months or even years ahead of their eventual bow.
The line-up for this year's fest has arrived, and it's a strong one, with a number of our favorites from Park City returning. Revenge thriller "Blue Ruin," Alex Gibney doc "Finding Fela," drama "Kumiko The Treasure Hunter," the Elizabeth Banks-starring "Little Accidents," Ryan Reynolds vehicle "The Voices," David Wain's comedy "They Came Together" and the Jenny Slate-starring "Obvious Child" are some of the big ticket items, along with UK premieres for "Frank" and "The Trip To Italy." You can check out the full line-up below, but before that, we caught up with Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper and Director of Programming Trevor Groth to get some of their thoughts on the festival, and their personal recommendations on what to see.
Cooper says that the London stop is now programmed simultaneously with the main one in Utah: "In the first year, we waited until after they played, and now we start thinking about it after we first see the film, we're watching it with two hats on. In fact there was one film we invited to both festivals at the same time, and that was 'Lambert & Stamp,' the first film we announced as being at Sundance London," he said. "It's just such a perfect fusion, it's a documentary about these gentleman who created through their own forward-thinking approach to marketing, one of the greatest bands of all time The Who, but they started out as filmmakers influenced by the French New Wave. So we knew we wanted it for both festivals."
For their highlights from Park City this year, Groth mentioned some of the musical elements that happen to be heading across the Atlantic. "We did have some great musical connections that were pretty special," he said. "For 'Finding Fela,' they bought the Fela band to Park City, to have that Afrobeat sound come out of Utah was really dynamic and exciting." Meanwhile, Cooper flagged up a couple of filmmakers. "The Q&A for 'The Voices' with Marjane Satrapi, she's such a character, and such an honest filmmaker." Groth added "I've been doing this for about twenty years, so I don't get starstruck, but it was really exciting to do that for David Cross' film 'Hits.' 'Mr Show' is one of my all-time favorite TV shows, so to have his sensibilities at Sundance was great, it's nice when you have a stand-up comedian doing a Q&A."
For further tips for what to see in London, Groth picked a film that was one of our favorites back in January: " 'Kumiko The Treasure Hunter' I found to be completely hypnotic, it's an art film, but it's beautifully done. It may not be the one that people gravitate towards naturally, but it's the one I would steer them towards." Cooper, meanwhile, went for some lighter fare: "'Obvious Child,' for me, the freshness of the voice of the filmmaker, Gillian Robespierre, and the performance by Jenny Slate, that's a really fun film to go see."
Finally, we wondered that with Sundance London now going into its third year, if the festival was planning further expansion to other countries or cities around the world, and it certainly seems to be a possibility. "It's definitely something we've been looking at," Cooper told us. "We've been encouraged by this model we've created, it's something that [Robert] Redford is promoting. We're looking." See the full festival line-up below, read more here, and check back next month for our coverage from the fest.
Feature Film Programme
The Case Against 8
Kumiko The Treasure Hunter
Lambert & Stamp
They Came Together
Under The Electric Sky (EDC 2013)
The One I Love
Special Event Programme
The Trip To Italy
From The Collection
Short Film Programme
Cruising Electric (1980)
Exchange & Mart
Love. Love. Love.
Notes On Blindness
Of Gods And Dogs
Short Film Programme 2
I Think This Is The Closest To How The Footage Looked
The Last Days Of Peter Bergmann
Life's A Bitch
MeTube: August Sings Carmen "Habanera"
The Obvious Child
The Art Of Film Music
Guts To Glory: How Do You FInd Your Story?
Hybrid Vigour: When Music, Art And Documentary Collide