First Night: Sundance London Film Festival, O2 Arena

Wainwrights make UK's sunless Sundance sing, but will it return?

Even Rufus Wainwright couldn't help quipping at the inaugural Sundance London, "We could be in Utah: the weather is so sh*t."

The Sundance uniform of snow boots, skinny jeans and fur coats may have been replaced by anoraks but the festival's ability to attract stars both on-screen and in the audience was not diminished.

Despite pre-event scepticism, it was a success. Even the decision to house the event in the O2 proved a hit.

Prince Charles gave Sundance the royal seal of approval when he introduced Harmony. Directed by Stuart Sender and Julie Bergman Sender, the film is narrated by the Prince of Wales and is a call for better awareness of environmental issues.

Yesterday saw the world premiere of the concert movie starring Wainwright and his sister Martha, Sing Me the Songs that Say I Love You: A Concert for Kate McGarrigle. Directed by Lian Lunson, it is comprised of footage from a Carnegie Hall tribute concert celebrating the life of Kate McGarrigle, who died in 2010, aged 63. It was followed by a concert at which the Wainwright siblings performed.

The big difference between Sundance London and Utah has been the emphasis on music. In recent years The South by Southwest festival in Austin, which incorporates music and film, has taken the cool-kid-on-the-block mantle that was once the preserve of Sundance. The musical efforts were a mixed bag. Tricky disappointed with his Jim Morrison-inspired antics, while Placebo had the crowd singing along.

John Cooper, director of the festival, explained: "That was Robert Redford's idea. He really likes the idea of examining different kinds of art together. He thinks artists are of like minds and putting them together you get more combustion."

The choice of musicians was a bit uninspiring for an organisation that made its name through discovering new talent in independent American film. Mr Cooper admitted the choices were made "on who was available, and we learned a lot about this side of the business". Even so, the music was a worthwhile addition to the festival and I expect the Utah event to follow suit.

Judged on discovering new American cinema, which was what the festival was set up to do in 1978, Sundance London was a qualified success. The 14 films offered a broad representation of the type of films showing in Park City rather than simply a best of 2012.

Equal weighting was given to documentary and feature films and women directors were out in force. The pandering to the stars that major film festivals are often accused of doing was not evident. The highlights included Lauren Greenfield's documentary Queen of Versailles, a rags-to-riches tale of a billionaire couple, and Colin Tevorrow's lo-fi sci-fi Safety Not Guaranteed, about journalists who answer a personal advert: guy seeking partner in time travel.

Not all the films sold out, unsurprising given the lack of big-name filmmakers, although it attracted a far younger crowd than usually seen at a British film festival. Eve Gabereau, co-managing director of Soda Pictures, whose film For Ellen premiered at the festival, remarked: "What's been amazing is that the audience is younger and very different from what we see at other London film festivals and the BFI."

John Cooper says it's still undecided if Sundance will return to London in the future. However, a failure to do so would make the event feel like a gimmick rather than a genuine attempt to further the career of American independent filmmakers.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering