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Robert Redford’s Sundance film festival made its first tentative steps across the Atlantic last year for a four-day stint at The O2.

This year, markedly emboldened by last year’s success, it returns for a festival of movies, music, and movies about music. 

There are films from established talents and first timers, many traversing the gap between film and song, with a wealth of gigs taking place alongside interactive events, panels and talks. 

First up, though, what about that trim 20-strong programme cherry-picked from the 100+ entries at 2013’s January Sundance fest in Park City, Utah? 

“It was Robert Redford’s idea to make Sundance a film and music festival, he’s always loved the intersection between the arts,” Sundance London programme head Trevor Groth tells us from his US base. 

Shane Carruth's Upstream Colour

There will be movie-music mash-ups such as indie darlings British Sea Power performing their score live to nature doc From The Sea To The Land Beyond, and electro-sexual performance artist Peaches baring it all on stage and in new documentary Peaches Does Herself. Brit bands Luls and Sylver Tongue will be rocking out, and events such as the comedy-dissecting Senses Of Humour/Humour: The Art Of Comedy with Lake Bell will take you behind the scenes.

There will, however, be some very special purely cinematic spectacles for you to dig into, as Groth eagerly points out. “One of the highlights is our Audience Award winner from our [January] Dramatic competition, Metro Manila,” Groth enthuses of a film shot by new British filmmaker Sean Ellis in the Philippines. 

“It has a great genre element to it, about someone who robs armoured cars and a guy who gets caught up in this world. But it also has a great emotional core to it, too.” 

Another eagerly awaited film is the grey-matter testing Upstream Colour, the sophomore flick from visionary writer-director-actor-talented-bugger Shane Carruth.

Charotte Hatherley of Sylver Tongue performs

“It is as ambitious a film as you’d expect from Shane,” Groth tells us reassuringly. We loved Carruth’s 2004 time-travel debut Primer (itself a Sundance product) but confess it took us a couple of runs through to unravel its narrative complexities. 

“I have seen Colour twice now and it clicked a lot more the second time around,” Groth adds, comfortingly, suggesting the nine years Carruth spent on the movie were put to good use.“It took him so long as he was not willing to compromise – when you see the film you’ll see what a true artist he is and what a sophisticated mind he has for telling stories in film.”

As well as traversing the gulf between movies and music, Sundance London also straddles the tastes of both American and British audiences. 

“We programme the festival first and foremost for the public,” Groth says. “We want to showcase films to a UK audience that they’ll respond to right away. Last year [the festival] followed through on these hopes so we’re excited ahead of our second year.” 

With such a diverse portfolio of movies and gigs coming your way, you’d best be excited, too.

Best of Sundance London 


Sundance London. Apr 25-28. The O2.
Tickets from £12.50.  Peninsula Square, SE10 0DX  
Tube | North Greenwich 


Sundance London: Robert Redford's film festival shows the best new movies and music from around the world
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