Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Subscribe: Get 6 Issues For £15
Get Empire magazine today and save money!
Empire Blogs
Words From The Wise

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Sundance London: An Introduction To The 2014 Edition

Posted on Wednesday April 23, 2014, 23:54 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Sundance London: An Introduction To The 2014 Edition

Some 15 years ago, we at Empire made a terrible mistake by sharing our discovery of a wonderful Christmassy village in Utah that every January showed great independent films by terrific emerging filmmakers to enthusiastic audiences. It had been an open secret for a while before then, but sometime in the late 2000s the Sundance Film Festival simply exploded, making it not just the first appointment festival on the calendar but an event that now resounds throughout the rest of the year. Never mind its rep as the festival that discovered Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh and Kevin Smith, Sundance continues to be relevant by championing films that in recent years have launched X-Person Jennifer Lawrence, (re)discovered the elusive Sixto Rodriguez and made Benh Zeitlin a surprise Best Picture nominee for his debut Beasts Of The Southern Wild.

With Sundance London returning for its third year at London’s O2 this weekend, we thought we’d catch up with festival director John Cooper and director of programming Trevor Groth to see what the fest’s UK sibling has in store…

How is 2014’s festival looking?
John Cooper: It’s shaping up to be a great year. We’re coming off a very successful Sundance festival in Utah, so it made the process even more fun and lively. It was a great time to see what we could bring to London.
Are you more comfortable after two editions here? What have you learned?
Cooper: We’ve learned a lot from this experience. I think we’ve really come to trust the London audience to be up for anything and be a great cinephile crowd. Trevor and I do a lot of the Q&As there, so the in-theatre experience of presenting these films has been great. I don’t know if I was necessarily shocked by it, but I really liked the thirst for very American stories – those have done very well for us. Stories that are a little more out of the mainstream, about smalltown America, as well as films about the larger problems we face as a country. All of those films seem to have really interesting, lively screenings and conversations around them. So that’s something we’ve learned: to trust the audience. The other thing is music – the power of music is something we’ve continued to cultivate. I’m gonna let Trevor talk a little more about that…
Trevor Groth: From its inception, Robert Redford wanted Sundance to be a film and music festival, and it’s really great for us to officially programme that in London too. The Park City festival has always had music elements. We have the Music Café, we work with KCRW, the LA radio station, but going into London we specifically called it a film and music festival. What’s been great about that is finding those films that celebrate that notion of the power of music, and I think this year we’ve got an exceptional group – both documentaries and fiction films – that really explore that notion in a really interesting way. Everything from the political – Finding Fela, which shows how Fela Kuti used music as a tool for a political change – to a more abstract film like Frank (pictured). Frank was a real highlight in Park City for me, and to be able to host the UK premiere of that is really special. It’s about the creative process – why artists create.
Cooper:  Talking of UK premieres, I’m really excited about the UK premiere of Fruitvale Station, because it’s had such a long Sundance history. That feels really good. And there’s also the continuation  of our 30th year anniversary, with the programme we're doing with Empire – three films that tell such vivid stories of our history.
Those are Memento, Reservoir Dogs and Winter’s Bone, right? Do you have any particular memories of those three films?
Cooper: All of them. They were chosen for that reason. I was at the workshop that we do in the summer with Quentin Tarantino when he first came to Sundance. He was waiting to find out if he’d got in. He was in the parking lot yelling, “When am I gonna know???” He still has that energy that guy; he’s just really passionate about film. So I remember that, and I remember standing backstage during Winter’s Bone with Jennifer Lawrence as a very young actress, feeling the seriousness of her situation and her talent.
Groth: I remember writing the programme description for Memento. I watched it, like, THREE TIMES to try to figure out the best way of describing it without giving anything away. I appreciated the craft of storytelling more and more.
You have a good cross section from the Utah festival this year. How did you approach the programming?
Cooper: We did have our heads around this when we programmed, thinking about how comedy was such a big part of our festival this year. And high-profile actors in independent films. Even that notion of the raised quality of art in film – those elements are all in play at our festival. Comedy in particular, there’s Hits, by David Cross. Obvious Child is a film that will introduce audiences to a comedian called Jenny Slate, who’s the impetus and the centre-driver of the film. She’s so funny and so honest in her approach; she makes a great partner with the filmmaker on the story. Trevor, do you wanna talk a little about the art?
Groth: There are two films that I think are just really exquisitely made, especially on a big screen. Kumiko The Treasure Hunter and Memphis are two films that I think really expand the boundaries of cinematic storytelling. They do a lot with cinematography and composition, especially with Memphis in the way it incorporates music. They’re just beautiful films.
Any other tips?
Groth: Cooper just talked about having high-profile actors in these unconventional roles, and The Voices is a perfect example of that. You’ve got Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick in this film by Marjane Satrapi, who burst on the international scene with Persepolis. This is her third feature, and I don’t think anyone going into this will have any idea what’s in store for them. It’s a wild ride, and Ryan definitely commits to it. It’s a trippy film, and he’s really fantastic in it.
Are there any advantages to Sundance London that you don’t get in Park City?
Cooper: Being under one roof, we don’t have to run around so much. [Laughs] I can spend a lot of time in the back of the theatres, tracking audiences and talking to them in the lobby. It’s really fun, and kind of reviving too.
Groth: Actually we have a new venue there at the O2 this year, called Brooklyn Bowl, which we’re gonna use as our social hub for the festival. We’re gonna have some talks there, three nights of music performances and do a little bowling with the filmmakers too.
Cooper: Trevor’s excited because he’s quiet a good bowler. I am not. It’s just a kind of therapy of failure for me.
Is it a good excuse to make the January festival last that little bit longer?
Groth: I guess, we’re just getting to the point where we’re interested in partying again.
Cooper: Yeah. What I really like is travelling with these filmmakers, having another wave of them and getting closer to them in a really fun and vibrant way. It’s a really great time for us to come to London.

Login or register to comment.

Currently No Comments

Log in below, or register to post comments
Remember Me:


Empire States (440)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (35)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


Night Visions 2013: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, We Are What We Are, Big Bad Wolves
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Fresh Meat, The Colony, Sawney
By Owen Williams

Film4 FrightFest 2013: Sunday and Monday
By Owen Williams

Film4 FrightFest 2013: Thursday and Friday
By Owen Williams

Bloody Cuts In Conversation
By Owen Williams

European Film Awards 2012
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2012: Silje Reinamo and Thale
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2012: Juan Martinez Moreno and Attack of the Werewolves
By Owen Williams


Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)
"Or don't..."  Owen Williams
Read comment

Aruba 2013: Juan Francisco Pardo Q&A
"Sadece on altı dakika içinde iyi bir görsel hikaye anlatmak önemli beceri ve bel"  skndrdmr
Read comment

Aruba 2013: Opening Gala
"That really amazing."  ommrudraksha
Read comment

2013 IIFF - The Winners
"Hi Simon, Trying to get in touch with you. Hope this works. I enjoyed your piece on Enter t"  matthewpolly
Read comment

Christoph Waltz will win an Oscar
"although its old now :(, of course he was gonna win it :), one of the many idols of why i wanna be a"  SONYA ALALIBO
Read comment

Brisbane International Film Festival: First Report
"I think it is pretty clear the story revolves around The Blacksmith, in The Man With The Iron Fists,"  owenyunfat
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Thanks for the feedback! I hope I didn't give the impression that Cloud Atlas is a write-off; I just"  Damon_Wise
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Hi Damon With regards to Cloud Atlas, I fear that it will face the same problem a"  ChesterCopperpot
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"No worries! I just try to describe things as I see them, and I often forget that, as Empire has grow"  Damon_Wise
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your early reviews from the festivals, and of course, I'm not alway"  pythonlove
Read comment


Sundance Part Six: In The Loop

Basterds Blog

Damo's Top Ten Of 2009

The Times BFI London Film Festival Preview

Sundance 2010: Four Lions blows everyone away!

Sundance 2010: The Killer Inside Me causes outrage!

Chris Hewitt Of The Year Award!!!!

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines

The Wrestler

Where to see Moon...

Damon Wise (297)
Helen O'Hara (167)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
Ian Nathan (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
David Parkinson (1)

You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list

The Future Of Film: There Will Be Another Indie Golden Age
Independent producers are growing from micro-budgets to something a lot bigger

Empire's Epic Interstellar Subscribers' Cover
The countdown begins to Christopher Nolan's sci-fi masterpiece

The Future Of Film: Your Favourite Movie WIll Be Crowdfunded
Click here to donate

The Empire Podcast #128: Interviews With Sir Roger Moore And George MacKay
Plus we say goodbye to Richard Kiel and the British Expendables are assembled...

Shut Up, World! Gary Busey Is Talking!
Strap yourselves in and meet a true Hollywood original.

Classic Feature: Gods Among Us - Paul Newman
A cat so cool he makes Steve McQueen look geeky.

The Boxtrolls Interviews: The Cast And Crew On Laika's Latest
Sir Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning and more talk stop-motion

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)