Yesterday I went to the last day of the Sundance Film Festival, an American annual film festival which showcases new work from American and international independent film makers. This was the first time the Sundance Film Festival has travelled outside of the United States, taking place at the London O2 between the 26th to the 29th.
From the moment Robert Redford announced that the festival would be held in London, I knew I had to attend. I booked tickets to see the eagerly anticipated film LUV, written and produced by Sheldon Candis, and starring Common, Michael Rainey Jr, Danny Glover, Meagan Good and Michael Kenneth Williams.
Let me start of by saying what an amazing movie this was, touching upon so many issues, from how young people can get trapped into a lifestyle which becomes impossible to get out of, and the pursuit of manhood. Sheldon describes this movie as an ‘Adriller’, a dramatic film with undertones of a thriller, and I believe his casting for this film was so perfect. Common’s style, appearance, background and storytelling tone of voice was made for this story, along with Michael Rainey Jr, who completely blew the audience away (many of whom where in tears) with such an mature and authentic performance for his age.
In the Q&A session, we had the honour to speak to Sheldon Candis and gain an insight into his inspirations for the film. Sheldon Candis further describes how the movie is a fictional tale inspired by a relationship that he had growing up in Baltimore, with his uncle who at the times was one of the city’s most infamous and feared drug dealers.
“Love is a dysfunctional love story between an 11 year old orphan boy (Michael Rainey Jr) and his recently returned home from prison uncle (Common), who this kid loves, revers and looks up to. Over the course of a day, this young boy finds out that his uncle is a really bad person. The movie explores what happens when a child is exposed to violence for the first time”
One of my favourite questions from the audience was by a man in a blue shirt who asked “you have a fantastic cast, how did you manage to get everyone together to take part in the movie, with what I can image wasn’t a Hollywood blockbuster budget?”
Candis answered by stating how he had got to know some of the cast having met the David Simon, writer and author of the HBO drama series, The Wire’, and through that met Michael Kenneth Williams (who played Omar Little in The Wire.; a made that stayed with me was that, it’s pretty much a given that independent film makers start of with next to nothing, but “if it’s a good story the right artists will get on board”. I found that quite endearing as all too often, we look at our barriers, before just getting on with it and opening ourselves up to potential opportunities.
Here are some pictures from the night.