Five Unmissable Films At Sundance London 2013

Blood Brother, God Loves Uganda, Upstream Colour, The Kings of Summer and Metro Manila.

With Sundance London 2013 kicking off at the O2 today, we bring you the top five films to check out over the weekend.

Every single feature director is present at the festival this year, which will make for terrific Q&As following the screenings (each film screens at least twice). Sundance runs from 25th to 28th April - check out www.sundance-london.com for more information and tickets.

For the second year running, Sundance founders Robert Redford and John Cooper are bringing a diverse selection of films from the Utah event to these shores, along with panels, workshops and concerts. We’ve been checking them out during press screenings, and can tell you the top five essential tickets.

1. BLOOD BROTHER




In the opening minutes, this looks like the story of a privileged white American man attempting to experience a bit of culture by helping all the poor folk in India. Very soon it becomes apparent that director Steve Hoover’s raw account of his best friend Rocky Braat is something else, something quite extraordinary. Hoover visits Rocky, who has spent three years caring for AIDS-afflicted orphans, as an intense story of pure love and charity unfolds, and we learn more about what drives Rocky, a young man with hidden depths. Winner of the US Grand Jury Prize (Documentary) and the Audience Award in Sundance Utah, this emotional journey is utterly life-affirming, humbling and inspiring.

2. GOD LOVES UGANDA




Roger Ross Williams’ powerful documentary would make an incredible double bill with the above, being a case of good Christian vs. bad Christians. A look at the origins of Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality bill, it examines how American evangelists have exploited the country’s vulnerability to preach their bigotry and right-wing values. Enraging as it may be, the likes of brave souls Rev. Kapya Kaoma and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo offer hope as Williams subtly exposes smug US missionaries for the ignorant fools they are. A terrifying look at the unstoppable reach and power of the International House of Prayer (IHOP), and the fact that they are now responsible for murder in the name of religion.

3. UPSTREAM COLOUR




Shane Carruth follows up his astounding debut Primer - one of the greatest time-travel movies ever, made for less than the cost of a second-hand car - with this hugely ambitious, enigmatic and puzzling drama. Our first reaction is: think Brit Marling meets Terrence Malick, combining imaginitive sci-fi and mystery with sheer beauty and reflection. Amy Seimetz stars as a young woman recovering from an unusual assault, who meets a fellow lost soul (Carruth, co-starring as well as serving as writer, director, editor, cinematographer and composer). A head-scratcher you’ll be thinking about for days, it’s unlike anything else out there right now.

4. THE KINGS OF SUMMER




If you’re going to see one US coming-of-age drama this festival, skip Mud (it’s out next month anyway) and treat yourself to this gorgeous comedy drama from Jordan Vogt-Roberts, formerly titled Toy’s House. Three teenage boys run away to the woods to live off the land in a house they built, but the troubles of growing up cannot be escaped from. Warm, engaging and slightly surreal performances from the young cast (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias) sit nicely alongside scene-stealers Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally amongst the worried parents, who relish the surprisingly dark, outrageous and extremely funny script. Lush photography and a stirring alt-rock soundtrack make this the definitive Sundance experience.

5. METRO MANILA




Like Gareth Evans and his Jakarta-shot The Raid, British director Sean Ellis makes his mark setting this intense crime drama in the Philippines, which examines the cycle of misery in the country’s slums. Jake Macapagal is tremendous as the honest, hard-working farmer who takes his family to the capital to look for work, as they are exploited by bogus landlords and employers. He gets a break as a security guard under the mentorship of Ong (John Arcilla), while his wife (Althea Vega) finds work as a hostess. Loyalties are tested in a searing but subtle thriller, in which the outcomes are not always predictable. Superb performances combined with an authenticity and naturalism make this riveting viewing.