Sundance festival swaps Utah mountains for London

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Hollywood veteran Robert Redford moved his Sundance film festival from Utah's snowy mountains to London on Thursday, in a bid to kick start an international expansion of the event.

Sundance London, a smaller version of the US film festival set up by the actor and director in 1985, will showcase 22 films as well as a string of live music performances at the 02 Arena in southeast London.

"Music and cinema look like they could be the next hybrid," Redford, 75, said at a press conference at the 02.

The star of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" said the London gala would be a "scaled down version of what we do in the mountains in Utah", where Sundance has grown into the United States' biggest independent film festival.

"I was reluctant to see us go out until the time was really right, and it felt like it was," he said.

Sundance London, which runs until Sunday, will host the British premieres of 14 American feature-length movies and 8 short films originally screened at its US sister festival.

Several documentaries are on the programme, including "The Queen of Versailles", Lauren Greenfield's portrait of the American dream, and "The House I Live In", Eugene Jarecki's critique of the US government's war on drugs.

Britain's heir to the throne Prince Charles will introduce "Harmony", a documentary calling for greater environmental protection, which he has narrated.

British rockers Placebo are among the musical acts performing.

Redford, who established Sundance as a counterweight to big-ticket Hollywood events, aims to cast the spotlight on lesser-known filmmakers.

"The main objective that we started with is to create opportunities for new artists and new voices to be heard," Redford said.

But there are no films on the programme shot in 3D, a trend Redford pronounced himself "not a particular fan of".

Sundance, which has launched the careers of filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh and brothers Ethan and Joel Cohen, takes place in Utah's Park City ski resort every January.

The 02 Arena, or the North Greenwich Arena as it will be known during the Olympic Games, which open in London on July 27, is hosting the Olympic basketball matches as well as the artistic and trampoline gymnastics events.

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