Film Latest - - by Rob Wallis

Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

A ski resort in the the mountains of Provo, Utah, might not seem like the most logical birth place for one of the world’s major film festivals, but that’s exactly where the Sundance Film Festival begun back in 1978 under the watchful eye of Hollywood luminary Robert Redford. It’s only been two years, though, since an offshoot of the mighty blue spruce – state tree of Utah – made its way across the pond and sprung up as Sundance London.

Taking place at the O2 arena and other selected London locations, here are our unmissable top 10 films and events at Sundance London 2014

10. They Came Together

2Q== Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

International Premiere

This subversion/spoof/deconstruction of the romantic comedy genre has a vaguely, but not overtly, Jewish leading man, a klutzy, but adorable, leading lady, and New York City itself as another character in the story.

They Came Together relates the epic love story of Joel, a corporate executive for Candy Systems and Research, a mega candy store chain, and Molly, the owner of a small sweet shop called Upper Sweet Side. When Joel is tasked with shutting down Molly’s mom-and-pop operation, the unlikely lovers find themselves hurtled into a whirlwind romance. From quaint bookstores and coffee shops to neurotic family members and psychotic ex-lovers, Joel and Molly must face some harrowing obstacles on their path to true love.

Brought to us by the ingenious comedian David Wain, who directed the 2001 Sundance Film Festival cult classic Wet Hot American Summer, They Came Together is a phenomenal homage to the iconic romantic comedies of American cinema. Led by long-time David Wain collaborators Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, the star-studded cast treats its audience to absurdly hilarious cameos at every turn. This is a true treasure trove of American comedy.

Remember to stick around after the credits roll for the post-screening filmmaker Q&A.

26 April :  6:30 PM  –  8:00 PM

27 April :  3:00 PM  –  4:30 PM


9. Truly Independent Visions

9k= Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

Brooklyn Bowl Session

Where better than a bowling alley for truly independent filmmakers to strike up a conversation about cinema outside the box? Bold, innovative, forward-thinking storytelling doesn’t just happen – it takes an active imagination and media technology that supports cinematic innovation.

Join intrepid filmmakers who know that you have to throw a lot of gutter balls before you hit a strike. Filmmakers Sydney Freeland (Drunktown’s Finest), Charlie McDowell (The One I Love) and David Zellner (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter) join Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer David Courier to discuss what it takes to realize a truly independent vision.

This is a FREE event and open to all, subject to venue capacity.

27 April :  2:00 PM  –  3:00 PM


8. The Trip to Italy

Z Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

European Premiere

Michael Winterbottom reunites Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon for more delectable food, some sharp-elbowed rivalry, and plenty of laughs.

Edited from the six episodes currently screening on the BBC, The Trip to Italy is a stand alone film that is a sequel to the acclaimed film and television series THE TRIP.  Shot in breathtaking locations it is a deliciously sensual film about food and friendship infused with a heavy dose of humor that  all add up to an intoxicating cinematic experience.  Sundance London is thrilled to welcome the director Michael Winterbottom back to the festival.

Michael Winterbottom’s largely improvised 2010 film, The Trip, took comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon—or semifictionalized versions thereof—on a restaurant tour around northern England. In this witty and incisive follow-up, Winterbottom reunites the pair for a new culinary road trip, retracing the steps of the Romantic poets’ grand tour of Italy and indulging in some sparkling banter and impersonation-offs. Rewhetting our palates from the earlier film, the characters enjoy mouthwatering meals in gorgeous settings from Liguria to Capri while riffing on subjects as varied as Batman’s vocal register, the artistic merits of “Jagged Little Pill,” and, of course, the virtue of sequels.

Winterbottom trains his camera to capture the idyllic Italian landscape and the gastronomic treasures being prepared and consumed while keeping the film centered on the crackling chemistry between the two leads. The Trip to Italy effortlessly melds the brilliant comic interplay between Coogan and Brydon into quieter moments of self-reflection, letting audiences into their insightful ruminations on the nuances of friendship and the juggling of family and career. The result is a biting portrait of modern-day masculinity.

25 April :  9:30 PM  –  11:15 PM


7. Blue Ruin

9k= Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

A mysterious outsider’s quiet life turns upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving to be an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.

Blue Ruin premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it screened in the Directors’ Fortnight and went on to win the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize. Filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier attended the 2013 Sundance Film Festival as the cinematographer for Matthew Porterfield’s I Used to Be Darker, which screened in the NEXT program.

With his second feature film, writer/director Jeremy Saulnier creates a classic American revenge story, crackling with sudden violence and black humor. The film maintains an impressive edge-of-your-seat pace through the script’s surprising twists and turns and the efficient work of editor Julia Bloch. Beyond the thrills, Saulnier grounds the film’s humanity in the captivating eyes of lead actor Macon Blair, which never lose the burning intensity of righteous duty and overpowering fear.

Remember to stick around after the credits roll for the post-screening filmmaker Q&A.

25 April :  9:15 PM  –  10:45 PM

27 April :  12:15 PM  –  1:45 PM


9k= Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

6. Short Film Competition

This one you can do from the comfort of your own home as all the shorts are available to watch online here.

[Writer’s note: The director of the winning film, Russian Roulette, is a former housemate of mine, Ben Aston. We should shortly be hosting an exclusive interview with him.]


5. Fruitvale Station

9k= Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

UK Premiere

Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who loved his friends, was generous to strangers, and had a hard time telling the truth to the mother of his beautiful daughter. He was scared and courageous and charming and raw, and as human as the community he was part of. That community paid attention to him, shouted on his behalf, and filmed him with their cell phones when BART officers, who were strong, intimidated, and acting in the way they thought they were supposed to behave around people like Oscar, shot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day in 2009.

Director Ryan Coogler makes an extraordinary directorial debut with this soulful account of the real-life event that horrified the nation. Featuring radiant performances by Melonie Diaz and Michael B. Jordan as Grant, a young man whose eyes were an open window into his soul, Fruitvale offers a barometer reading on the state of humanity in American society today.

Remember to stick around after the credits roll for the post-screening filmmaker Q&A.

26 April :  6:00 PM  –  7:30 PM

27 April :  2:45 PM  –  4:15 PM


4. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

2Q== Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

UK Premiere

Winner of a U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Musical Score at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

A lonely Japanese woman becomes convinced that a satchel of money buried in a fictional film is, in fact, real. Abandoning her structured life in Tokyo for the frozen Minnesota wilderness, she embarks on an impulsive quest to search for her lost mythical fortune.

Kumiko lives in a cluttered, cramped apartment in Tokyo with her pet rabbit, Bunzo. She works as an office lady, robotically preparing tea and fetching dry cleaning for her nitpicky boss. But on her own time, she obsessively watches a well-known American film on a weathered VHS tape. Rewinding and fast-forwarding repeatedly, she meticulously maps out where a briefcase of castaway loot is buried within the fictional film. After hours of intense research—convinced that her destiny depends on finding the money—Kumiko heads to the United States and into the harsh Minnesota winter to search for it.

Inspired by an urban legend about a Japanese woman who took a similar journey, filmmaker brothers David and Nathan Zellner (Sundance Film Festival alums many times over) tackle their most ambitious project to date. The Zellners’ love for lonely eccentrics remains intact, and Rinko Kikuchi gives a fascinating performance as the introspective, withdrawn Kumiko, whose increasing discomfort in the world leads her to retreat ever further into isolation. Shot with breathtaking precision, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter soars to transcendence as it reveals the beauty in the quest for reality, even if that reality is just your own.

Remember to stick around after the credits roll for the post-screening filmmaker Q&A.

25 April :  6:15 PM  –  8:00 PM

26 April :  12:00 PM  –  1:45 PM

27 April :  8:30 PM  –  10:15 PM


3. Guts to Glory: How Do You Find Your Story

Z Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014


With case studies from script to screen, this in depth panel discussion will get down and dirty about the often bumpy ride that it takes to realize your dream of getting your film made.
With case studies from script to screen, this in depth panel will get down and dirty about the often bumpy ride that it takes to realize your dream of getting your film made.  From the spark of an idea, to typing the words FADE IN, to your world premiere at a major festival, filmmakers share stories from the trenches on how they navigated the obstacles, faced the challenges, compromised when they had to, and ultimately beat the odds.  Are you ready for the true story?  This is a panel for anyone who has made a film (or dreams of making a film) or anyone who just wants to know the real deal.

Lenny Abrahamson, Director, Frank
Ryan Coogler, Director/Screenwriter, Fruitvale Station
Jon Ronson, Screenwriter, Frank
Marjane Satrapi, Director, The Voices

Moderated by John Cooper, Director, Sundance Film Festival

26 April :  3:30 PM  –  5:00 PM
2. The Case Against 8
9k= Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

Winner of the Directing Award: U. S. Documentary at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

A behind-the-scenes look inside the case to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Shot over five years, the film follows the unlikely team that took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Election Day 2008: Californians passed Proposition 8, a measure that repealed the right of same-sex couples to marry. This documentary takes us behind the scenes of the high-profile trial that overturned the controversial constitutional amendment. The case first made headlines with the shocking alliance of lead attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, political foes who last faced off on opposing sides in Bush v. Gore. The plaintiffs are two loving gay couples who find their families at the center of the same-sex marriage controversy.

Filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White gain unparalleled access to the key players in the controversy and provide fly-on-the-wall coverage of a trial the public was never allowed to see. Shot over five years, this extraordinary film offers unprecedented insight into our justice system and the often mysterious process of taking a case to the Supreme Court. Chronicling one of the most significant civil rights battles in our nation’s existence, The Case Against 8 puts the viewer in the driver’s seat of history in the making.

Remember to stick around after the credits roll for the post-screening filmmaker Q&A.

26 April :  5:30 PM  –  7:30 PM

27 April :  12:00 PM  –  2:00 PM


1. Frank

9k= Top 10 things to do at Sundance London 2014

UK Premiere

An offbeat comedy about a wannabe musician who finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant garde rock band led by the enigmatic Frank—a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head.

Frank is a comedy about a young wannabe musician, Jon, who discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins a band of eccentric pop musicians led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank and his terrifying sidekick, Clara. Frank’s uniqueness lies in the fact that he makes music purely for the joy of creating…and because he wears a giant fake head. After a rocky start, Jon ingratiates himself with the band members, and they retreat to a cabin in the woods to record an album. As his influence waxes, creative  tensions mount, and the band’s entire raison d’être is called into question.

Already a presence  at the Cannes, Berlin, and Toronto film festivals, director Lenny Abrahamson makes his Sundance debut with a captivating offering featuring a phenomenal cast, including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, Domhnall Gleeson, and Michael Fassbender as you’ve never seen him before. The ensemble creates lasting images and sounds for a film that playfully examines the nature of art and artists. Frank possesses such creative audacity and thought-provoking observations—propelled by a barrage of wit, performance, and, of course, song—that you are bound to emerge feeling as if you have seen and heard something completely original.

Remember to stick around after the credits roll. The opening night screening of Frank is presented in association with Time Out, whose Film Editor Dave Calhoun will host the filmmaker Q&A.

25 April :  6:30 PM  –  8:00 PM

27 April :  11:45 AM  –  1:15 PM


Tickets for all the above events are available here.


Rob Wallis is a graduate of the London Film School and a recent member of the Online Film Critics Society. He also keeps a rarely updated, bare-bones blog, Of All the Film Blogs, ( You can follow him on Twitter @robertmwallis.

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