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Still from "Frank"Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Sundance returns to London this weekend

We pick the flicks to watch at the British instalment of Robert Redford's indie film festival

Too far to Utah? For the third year running a selection of indie films from the snowy resort-set Sundance Film Festival are being screened at London's O2. Here are our picks of the fest spin-off, which runs this weekend from April 25-27.

MEMPHIS (2013)

Brooklyn-based filmmaker Tim Sutton's second feature was shot in the American South and draws on his deep love of roots music. It stars bluesy XL Recordings artist Willis Earl Beal. Tim described his inspiration for the project to us in a magazine interview last year: "I believe there are places that have great spiritual, even celestial, power and Memphis is off the charts. It's where Martin Luther King was shot and where Elvis crooned; the northern tip of the delta, coloured by William Eggleston. A place equally blessed and cursed, rich with folklore. I was introduced to the music and story of a barely known singer named O.V. Wright who, legend has it, is the single greatest singer to come out of Memphis, but died, addicted, and was buried in an unmarked grave."

FRANK (2014)

Michael Fassbender stars in this very dark, very funny and genuinely weird film about an indie band who go into seclusion to record an album – and wears a giant, creepy papier-mache head for most of it. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, the festival opening film is inspired by 80s television and radio persona Frank Sidebottom (co-writer Jon Ronson was part of Sidebottom’s band). It’s a clever and wry satire on music world cliches and I’m-so-weird-man posturing that also features a superbly bizarro Maggie Gyllenhaal as an aggressive theremin player.


On New Year in 2009 a young unarmed black man, Oscar Grant III, was fatally shot in the back by the transit police officer who was restraining him on the Fruitvale BART Station platform in Oakland, California - an event caught on mobile cameras and widely disseminated, sparking outcry. Starring Michael B. Jordan, Ryan Coogler's explosive debut feature reconstructs Grant's whole day, and captures the raw pressure-cooker emotion of prejudice.


Quirky, dilemma-ridden young women are a US indie staple, but director Gillian Robespierre pushes her frank and funny debut feature into daring terrain with a pro-choice agenda when the film's foul-mouthed stand-up comedian and on-stage over-sharer (Jenny Slate) gets knocked up from a one-night stand.


Paris-based Iranian director Marjane Satrapi, who made Persepolis, is getting good word-of-mouth for her first English-language film, a weird horror-comedy hybrid about a bathtub factory worker (Ryan Reynolds) in a small Midwest town who accidentally kills the Brit work colleague he's obsessed with (Gemma Arterton), then asks his talking pets (say what?) for advice.

BLUE RUIN (2013)

Jeremy Saulnier's Southern Gothic revenge tale, which originally screened in Cannes Directors' Fortnight, is a lean and tense depiction of a drifter (Macon Blair) who tries to exact payback for the deaths of his parents, but is a less than neatly efficient assassin.


Director Alex Gibney through archival footage and interviews charts the politically charged music and mad exploits of Nigeria's Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti - from his formation of a commune and running for presidency, to his marrying 27 women at the same time in a polygamous ceremony.


Throwback time! Quentin Tarantino's debut about a bunch of professional crims with colour-coded aliases who realise after a botched diamond heist there must be a police informant among them makes it to the big screen again. It floored audiences with its raw, violent punch and pop-culture banter (Mr. Brown: "Let me tell you what Like A Virgin is about…") when it premiered at Sundance in 1992.


Two programmes bring together the best of recent Sundance-screened shorts, from Rose McGowan's directing debut Dawn about a teen who wants out of her sheltered life, to Grand Jury Prize winner Of Gods and Dogs from Syria's Abounaddara Collective about a soldier's conscience, and Russian doc about love over several winters, Love. Love. Love. by Sandhya Daisy Sundaram.


Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss play a married couple about to split in this unique debut feature from Charlie McDowell. A weekend getaway their therapist recommends as a last-ditch attempt to save their relationship spirals into a bizarre experience, as a surreal twist kicks in that takes the film into less conventional terrain (but, no spoilers!)