Sundance is where the brightest talents of American independent cinema go to show off their movies, so its presence on British soil is kind of a big deal. The London iteration of the world famous festival, now in its second year, offers a selection of the films screened at Sundance plus a number of fresh new British works, live music and panel discussions, all over the course of a long weekend at the O2. We’ll be reviewing the festival once it begins at the end of April, so stay tuned.
1. Upstream Color
In 2004, Shane Carruth’s fascinating debut, the time travel maths lesson Primer, premiered at Sundance where it won the Grand Jury Prize. Although his second film, Upstream Color, didn’t win the big prize at this year’s festival it was well received by audiences and critics alike, even if nobody seems to have any idea what it is they saw.
But that’s understandable. Details on the film are pretty thin on the ground, but we do know Carruth writes, directs and stars (among other things) alongside mumblecore darling Amy Seimetz (Tiny Furniture, Silver Bullets) in a film he describes as a mythic romantic thriller. Sounds great, right? And if it’s half as good as Primer we’re in for one helluva treat.
Since he made waves with 2007’s Shotgun Stories writer-director Jeff Nichols has gone from strength to strength, with his second film, Take Shelter, premiering at Sundance in 2011 and his new one, Mud, screening in competition at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and this year’s Sundance.
Mud follows two teenage boys in America’s deep south who discover a charming fugitive (Matthew McConaughey) living in the woods and attempt to hide him from the authorities, all while helping him reunite with his ex-girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon). The film looks to be a coming-of-age story reminiscent of the novels of Mark Twain and 80s Spielberg which, considering Nichols is one of American cinema’s most interesting storytellers, is something we’re really excited about.
3. Peaches Does Herself
Berlin based Canadian electro-shock-pop star and artist Peaches has made a docu-musical about her life and career. Do you really need to hear anything else? Filmed at one of her live performances in Berlin, Peaches Does Herself marks her debut as a writer-director, and looks set to be as vibrant and confrontational as her music, famed for its thematic exploration of gender identity and sexuality.
Peaches will also give a live performance downstairs in the IndigO2 at the festival to accompany the film, so that’s something to look forward to (read: prepare for).
4. The Look of Love
“My name’s Paul Raymond. Welcome to my world of erotica,” proclaims Steve Coogan in the trailer for Michael Winterbottom’s new film, The Look of Love, a biopic of London’s most controversial publishing magnate, strip club owner and so-called “King of Soho”.
Imogen Poots, Stephen Fry, Anna Friel and Tamsin Egerton round out the cast of this wholly British drama which, in spite of the mixed critical acclaim levelled at it following its Sundance premiere in January, looks set to find its audience in London.
5. Running From Crazy
Barbara Kopple’s career as a documentarian is an undeniably impressive one. The winner of multiple awards, including Oscars for her films Harlan County U.S.A and American Dream, Kopple has directed numerous documentaries about people as diverse as Woody Allen and Mike Tyson, and now she’s turning her lens to Mariel Hemmingway, granddaughter of celebrated novelist Ernest.
Running From Crazy documents the Hemingway family’s battle with mental illness and suicide through the eyes of Mariel and her two siblings, and the word from its premiere at this year’s Sundance suggests it’s as bleakly riveting as the subject matter suggests. Colour us intrigued.
The festival takes place between the 25th and 28th of April. Tickets are on sale now. www.sundance-london.com
Words: Matt Mansfield