After a successful debut in the UK last year, Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival is once again set to touch down in the heart of London towards the end of April, delivering a snapshot of America’s independent film output. From the directional debut of Canadian singer Peaches to a screening of the History of The Eagles Part One the festival will act as a fusion of music and cinema, with key speakers, Q&As and panel discussions accompanying the various screenings.
With the original Sundance festival in the US having now morphed out of its own independent roots to become a blockbuster event in its own right (see our coverage of the 2013 festival here), the Utah-based big brother of Sundance London offers a glimpse of what this UK-centric event could potentially become.
"We would hope for Sundance London to be another Sundance experience - lively, culturally relevant and fun. We look forward to engaging with audiences as we discover new voices, new points of view and new perspectives,” said Robert Redford at a press launch in London recently. If they get the mix and sentiment right in Greenwich like they have in Park City, then brands – looking to align with ‘cultural relevant content’ – should be lining up to activate around the event.
The official Sundance festival across the pond is a Mecca for brands looking to integrate their products among the celebrity and kudos the alternative film festival generates. This year alone saw brand names such as Captain Morgan, Hewlett Packard, Acura, Chase Sapphire, Sears, Brita, Stella Artois and Ciroc netting a walk on part in the festival production. London, however, is a lot quieter on the sponsor/experiential front so far – but not for long it would seem.
The Langham Hotel as a supporting partner is currently offering a 20% saving for festival visitors. However, it is Nokia that is making the most interesting waves amid this fledgling spin off festival, with its New American Noise series. The mobile manufacturer has teamed up with Sundance on a unique collection of six music documentaries, each uncovering a different aspect of music across the globe, from NYC’s underground rap fraternity to the New Orleans sissy bounce scene. As a London extension of this partnership Nokia is inviting filmmakers worldwide to submit short mobile films trailers, highlighting an authentic city sound, in the hope of netting one of two debut slots during the Sundance London festival, mentoring from one of the judges, Lumia handsets and a $5,000 budget to shoot their movie.
It’s a solid, product focused initiative from Nokia, that puts creativity at the heart of the campaign and, with Sundance building momentum in London, offers a glimpse into the future of this niche festival and the opportunity for brands as it plants roots in the UK.