LONDON -- As the lineup for the third Sundance London film and music festival is unveiled, Variety talks to John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival, and Trevor Groth, Sundance's director of programming, about the selection (see below for full lineup).
Sundance London, which runs April 25-27, will include 21 feature films and 18 shorts across five sections, as well as live performances by a number of musical acts, which will be linked to movies screening at the fest, and a series of panel discussions.
Robert Redford and the Sundance team set up the London event, one of their motivations was to give added exposure to U.S. indie films in the international market.
"We realized that the international life of an American independent film was crucial to its success," he says. The London fest's creation was partly driven by an impulse to do "anything we could to help films go outside of our borders," he adds.
Among the American indie films that played first at the Sundance Film Festival, which takes place in January in Park City, Utah, and now have their international premieres in London are "Little Accidents," "They Came Together," "The Voices," "Hits," "Dinosaur 13," "Drunktown's Finest" and "The Case Against 8," which won the directing award for a U.S. documentary. "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter," which won the U. S. dramatic special jury award for musical score, has its U.K. premiere in London.
"It was a very successful Sundance for us, so that made for a very good opportunity, with many films that could play at London. So there was a great selection," Cooper says.
"We looked for films that represent American independent film but also that sense of discovery that Sundance is known for," he says.
"We really try to have a range of films to bring that will excite the audience, and we learned -- this being our third edition -- that the audiences in London are really up for this," he says, citing the mix of docus, artistic films, very serious narrative movies, and comedies. "We were trying to get the full range of what the filmmakers in America are making right now."
Another impulse behind the birth of the London festival was to link the worlds of movies and music.
"One of the through-lines that we have done throughout the three years of doing Sundance London is that in its conception Redford wanted it to be a film and music festival. He always loved that cross-section of the arts, and so we've always looked for films that have music ties," Groth says.
"What is nice about them is that they aren't just about a band or about a kind of music. It is about the cultural impact and the personal impact that music can have on lives."
Among the musicians to play live at the London event are Archive, whose performance is tied to a screening of "Axiom," and Dele Sosimi, one of the original members of Fela Kuti's band, alongside an Afrobeat orchestra, which is linked to the screening of Alex Gibney's film "Finding Fela."
Other films with a musical theme include "Lambert & Stamp," about the managers of The Who, "Memphis," about a singer wandering through the city, and "Under the Electric Sky," about the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, the largest music festival in the U.S.
The desire to connect filmmakers with musicians is one that is close to Redford's heart.
Cooper says: "It's an idea that Redford has been very involved in, the whole notion of mixing artists together for a greater impact, and it has been growing in the minds of American filmmakers."
He adds: "It is in the independent zeitgeist to use music in more interesting ways than they did even 10 years ago."
One of the panel discussions, "The Art of Film Music," looks at composing. Speakers are Alex Heffes ("The Last King of Scotland," "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom") and Javier Navarrete ("Pan's Labyrinth," "Byzantium"). It is moderated by the director of the Sundance Film Music Program, Peter Golub ("Frozen River," "The Laramie Project").
Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker will join another music-themed debate, titled "Hybrid Vigor: When Music, Art and Documentary Collide."
The festival's venue, AEG Europe's O2 entertainment complex in East London, offers the ideal site to accommodate the festival's mix of live music performances, film screenings and panel discussions, and the challenges that come with staging such an event, Groth says.