Robert Redford’s festival of film has run in Utah since 1978. As a champion of indie cinema, Sundance has helped to established a slew of directors who have influenced subsequent generations – with movies from the previously unheard of Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, Steven Soderbergh, Darren Aronofsky, Kevin Smith and Paul Thomas Anderson having all first screened at the festival.
In this, the festival's second UK visit, Sundance has been supplemented with a slight switch of focus, to include live music performances from both breaking and established acts.
Our pick of the fringe events include music showcase which featured Public Service Broadcasting and Mt. Wolf, though by far the hottest tickets of the festival were for gigs featuring Peaches, Gregg Allman and John Paul White and British Sea Power (pictured) at the indigO2, just across from the cinema complex, and each connected in some way to the film programme.
'Peaches Does Herself' is the singer’s latest move to supplant Madonna from her place as queen of dirty pop. A semi-biographical beatification of a concert movie. Allman and sometime Civil Wars frontman John Paul White performed an intimate set of songs selected from the electrifying soundtrack from 'Muscle Shoals', a documentary which charts the pilgrimage made by a string of artists to recording studios located in White’s Alabama home town.
With their backs to the audience, British Sea Power closed the event with a live score to Penny Woolcock’s 'From The Sea To The Land Beyond' – an enchanting movie drawn from archive footage that celebrated the British coastline.
These gigs were all magical, well suited to the relatively small indigO2, and the atmosphere once inside Cineworld was terrific where the festival truly owned the space.
Unfortunately, outside Sundance found itself a little overwhelmed by the cavernous space of the dome. Its legion of chain restaurants, populated by an army of Pink fans, there for a date on The Truth About Love Tour, all making for odd company amongst a festival that is all about taking a step outside of the mainstream, and into the very best to come from this year's independent cinema.
Sundance London keeps the best of a great festival, but the strange location does it few favours.
Words: Kingsley Marshall
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