Sundance, the foremost festival for independent cinema, returned to London last week, kick-starting what promises to be a spectacular summer of film. Hosted by Cineworld at The O2, with its founder, Robert Redford, in attendance, it featured a host of titles that made waves at the parent festival in Utah in January.
Highlights included UK premières for Sundance’s 2013 US Grand Jury Prize: Documentary winner, Blood Brother, and Lake Bell’s directorial debut and the winner of a screen-writing award, In A World. There were also music performances, workshops and Q&As providing a Millennium Dome-shaped Mecca for film lovers.
The world’s premier film festival kicks off in just under a fortnight, when much of Soho decamps to the South of France for two weeks to watch, sell or buy films and pay E16 for a pint of beer. With Steven Spielberg leading the starriest jury for years and new films from the Coen brothers, Alexander Payne and Nicolas Winding Refn, the 66th Cannes Film Festival looks to be a cracker.
For those not attending festivals, May and June see the blockbuster season commence, with Star Trek Into Darkness promising to deliver serious thrills for Trekkies and everyone else alike. The money is on Into Darkness being the biggest live-action film of the summer, with technology and upmarket car brands vying for association.
Just a day after opening Cannes, Baz Luhrmann’s lavish adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (pictured) releases in the UK. It is also, perhaps surprisingly, being released in 3D. At CinemaCon in Las Vegas last month, Luhrmann told more than 5,000 film industry attendees that "F Scott Fitzgerald was a great fan of new technology", so no doubt he would have been down the front with his 3D glasses on. If the trailers for Gatsby are anything to go by, the many fans of Luhrmann’s "everything but the kitchen sink" style won’t be disappointed.
There are new titles in a couple of popular franchises too. 17 May is a big day for fans of The Rock and insane vehicular stunts as Fast & Furious 6 opens. With much of the action taking place in London, you can expect the sixth in the series to set a new benchmark. A week later, the wolfpack are back in The Hangover Part III. There is hope that the mismatched trio can recapture the magic in the final instalment.
Not to be outdone, June is set to go stratospheric with the return of Superman in Man Of Steel. Christopher Nolan is on story and producing duties and is aiming to do for Superman what he did so spectacularly for Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy.
That is just May and June. So with July and August bringing Monsters University, Pacific Rim, The World’s End, The Lone Ranger and the Venice Film Festival, we can look forward to a memorable summer.
Tom Linay is a film specialist at Digital Cinema Media