Sure, you could travel to Sundance in the dead of winter and suffer frostbite for your trouble, or visit any one of dozens of conveniently-located festivals in the US screening independent films. But doesn't it sound more exciting and exotic to hop on a cross-Atlantic overnight flight so you can arrive in Swinging London just as the brand-new Declaration of Independence Film Festival gets underway? (Gotta love the cheekiness of the name, though the logo is a bit abstract for my taste.) Friday, June 1 marks the first day of screenings for the inaugural edition of the fest, which promises "the very best in new independent cinema from the USA and Canada." Many of the films are receiving their International Premiere (i.e., screening for the first time outside their native country) and a number are still awaiting distribution deals in the US, so this looks like a great opportunity for Londoners and stray cinema tourists to catch up.

For a first-time fest, the programmers assembled a very decent line-up. Of the features, Paul Fox's Everything's Gone Green and Jeff Lipsky's Flannel Pajamas have both been released in the US; other titles that I've seen and can recommend include Reg Harkema's Monkey Warfare (an entertaining comedy/drama about aging Canadian bohemians), Daniel Casey's The Death of Michael Smith (intriguing, stylish, sometimes confusing mystery/crime drama), and Matthew Nourse's The Pacific and Eddy (which I haven't seen, but it's "filmmaking haiku" according to Variety). Among the documentaries, Kim enjoyed Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life when it played at AFI Dallas; the others are less familiar to me, but the subject matter (including musicians, comedians, lottery winners, a civil rights attorney, and real-life Mexican superheroes) is nicely varied. Check out the festival's web site for more details.