So I’m back from the inaugural, and slightly ironically rainy, Sundance London Film Festival and have been asked by many to give my opinions of the event. So here they are in concise segments reflecting the type of questions people yelled at me.
What is Sundance London?
Understandable question as there are a lot of ‘Festivals’ around at the moment such as Cannes Film Festival, London Screenwriters’ Festival and even the original Sundance. This is actually like none of them. Sundance London is a showcase of the best films from Sundance in the US. Giving us the chance to see what is hot over in there. A lot of the films already have distribution in place and there isn’t a great pressure to sell it over here. In essence it is more of a film-lovers’ festival than a film-makers’ festival although I’ll explain later why film-makers’ can get a lot out of it too.
Wasn’t It A Bit Expensive?
Not really. It worked out at £12 a ticket, plus travel and food, but it was hosted at the O2 Arena, which is probably the nicest cinema complex I’ve ever been to. Huge HD screens (a first for me), comfortable seats, lots of leg room so you didn’t have to get up (or get trodden on) if people needed to pass. Most of the films were followed by Q&As by the directors and these were the best films from Sundance so the level was high. I enjoyed all the films I watched and have spent £9 many times on films that totally sucked before.
Now compare that to going to Sundance in the states and all the costs there? Again, it’s not the same environment but it is a good taster.
Let Me Know If It’s Worth It?
Well it was. Particularly, for film-makers actually. First, you may never see some of these films, otherwise, as they might not get a commercial release over here. Understandble from a business point of view but you’ll miss out on some fantastic examples of innovative film-making that can inspire your own projects.
Then there are the Q&As with directors. Now, these in themselves aren’t that insightful as the audience are a mix of film-lovers and film-makers so you get quite basic questions that even you know the answer to. However, because there are less film-makers’ in each screening the directors aren’t all swamped by people afterwards. I went with my co-writer Alli Parker and having really enjoyed Nobody Walks (my film of the festival) we were able to have a lovely chat with Director and co-writer Ry Russo-Young who seemed to enjoy talking about more technical topics.
Pre-emptive question: Would you go again?
YES. And the buzz around the festival was that they were delighted with how well it was received and plan to come back. For all the points above, I think its worth it for film-makers and film-lovers alike.
My favourite two films were Nobody Walks and 2 Days in New York, both films about families and both written and directed by women. Not only is this refreshing and a reflection that the gender gap is getting smaller but these films were as much about the men as they were about the women. Hopefully, defying more stereotypes in the process.
Having said that, a special shout-out to my brothers Chris Rock who came-of-age in his acting career in 2 Days in New York as well as John Krasinski (Nobody Walks) who was the best I’ve seen him in a film to date.
Bring on Sundance London 2013!