Sundance Festival says farewell to London

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The array of films and music events have been judged, if only informally, by the hundreds of people who attended the four-day Sundance London festival at The O2.

But the most important decision hangs in the balance - is it coming back?

Festival director John Cooper said it was still not decided about a return visit although expanding the reach of the Sundance ethos is a well-stated aim of the institute which has already established its workshop "film labs" across the world.

President and founder of the Sundance Institute Robert Redford said: "Sundance London marked our first time hosting an event in the UK, and we are grateful to all our supporters and collaborators for the reception we received.

"These four days have seen features, documentaries and live events with insightful filmmakers and musicians, as well as passionate audiences in attendance."

Alex Hill, of AEG Europe, owner and operator of The O2, said: "The feedback to our hosting Sundance London has been terrific.

"We set out to bring a slice of the Sundance Film Festival to London and if the audiences' positive reaction is anything to go by, there's a real appetite for this kind of festival in the UK.

"The content of Sundance London, featuring a stunning film programme, amazing music performances and discussion panels, has brought new audiences to The O2 and allowed us to showcase the venue."

The four-day festival saw the pick of independent American cinema and a strong emphasis on music with live performances from Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Placebo, the Guillemots and Glen Hansard as well as up and coming artists in the Music Cafe.

Making their UK premieres at Sundance London were 14 fiction and documentary features as well as eight short films from this year's main festival in Park City, Utah.

Special events included a presentation of Prince Charles's eco-thesis Harmony, an evening with Redford and T Bone Burnett and an intimate performance by Rufus and Martha Wainwright.

THE WHARF'S VERDICT

Despite some low-key marketing and dreadful weather, Sundance London was a palpable hit and the prospect of this as an annual event is mouth-watering.

The plus points were the array of live music events and the genuine focus on new voices in film with all main screenings introduced by accessible directors.

The theatres were mostly busy, if not packed, and the organisation was flawless, with a surfeit of helpful and enthusiastic volunteers.

Downsides? The acoustics in the Sky Superscreen are flawed and the loss of subtitles on the premiere of Two Days In New York was an annoying glitch (although handled so smoothly people actually applauded. That's the Brits for you.)

But this is undoubtedly five-star event we should fall over ourselves to entice back to the capital.

For our individual awards, see The Wharf on Thursday.

Go to sundance-london.com

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