Jodie Whittaker, Emilia Fox, Dougray Scott, Simon Amstell, Simon Callow, John Hurt, David Warner, Billy Zane, Harry Enfield and up-and-coming US writer/actress Brit Marling are among those appearing in films screening at this year’s Raindance Film Festival in London, 28th Sept – 9th Oct.
The full line-up of feature films boasts over 90 UK premieres from 36 countries, including more than 30 international premieres, and a further 137 shorts, cementing Raindance’s position as Europe’s leading independent film festival specialising in edgy and alternative films by first-time filmmakers.
The festival will open with the UK premiere of Another Earth – the critically-acclaimed breakout hit at this year’s Sundance. Directed by Mike Cahill, the haunting indie sci-fi drama, released by Fox Searchlight, was co-written and stars one-to-watch newcomer Brit Marling alongside William Mapother (Lost). On the night that a duplicate planet Earth is discovered in the solar system, an ambitious young astrophysics student (Marling) and an accomplished composer (Mapother) cross paths in a tragic accident and the lives of these strangers become irrevocably intertwined. Another Earth will screen on 28th Sept at Cineworld Haymarket, giving Raindance audiences a chance to see it ahead of its wider release in the UK in December. Brooklyn-based band Fall On Your Sword, who composed the original score for Another Earth, will be performing at the Opening Night After-Party.
The closing film is ‘slacker romance’ Bonsai - the second film from cult Chilean director Christian Jimenez. The movie adaptation of the much lauded Chilean novel of the same name and loosely structured around Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, the story centres on the ill-fated love affair between two college students. Featuring pitch-perfect performances together with superb direction from one of Chile’s rising stars, this will be Bonsai’s UK premiere.
Showcasing the best in Independent British Cinema, the Homegrown strand boasts 10 world premieres including mockumentary Black Pond from young filmmakers, Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley, and starring two-time BAFTA winner Chris Langham and award-winning stand-up Simon Amstell in his acting debut. The black comedy sees an ordinary family accused of murder when a stranger dies at their dinner table.
Acts of Godfrey, written and directed by Johnny Daukes, starring Simon Callow, Harry Enfield and Iain Robertson, will also make its World premiere. Written entirely in rhyming couplets, the black comedy follows Victor (Robertson) as he attends a weekend motivational sales course in a country hotel, an event also attended by gangsters, a pop star and a fraudster (Enfield). Little does he know that the weekend will change his life forever, as omniscient narrator Godfrey (Simon Callow) meddles with the weekend’s proceedings.
Also receiving its world premiere is A Thousand Kisses Deep starring Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II), Jodie Whittaker (Venus), Emilia Fox (Silent Witness) and veteran actor David Warner and directed by Dana Lustig. Caught in a timeless world of passions and betrayals, Mia (Whittaker) searches for the truth behind a mysterious woman’s death.
Fresh from its World Premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival, supernatural thriller, Hollow,
(dir. Michael Axelgaard) will receive its European premiere – the story of two young couples on holiday in the English countryside when they uncover an ancient evil. Sea Monsters, directed by Julian Kerridge, will also make its world debut. Sam and Kieran are two teenage best friends living in a dead-end seaside town, when they meet a bewitching traveller girl. Soon these wild young lives are torn apart by tragedy.
In the North American Indies strand comes After Fall, Winter, the sequel to Eric Schaeffer’s 1997 hit Fall. The film rejoins Michael Shiver 15 years later – now 40 and searching for meaning to his life on a trip to Paris where he meets a beautiful, but dangerous woman (Lizzie Brochere) in a dark and edgy love story told against a BD/SM backdrop. Making its European premiere is Gabi on the Roof in July (directed by Lawrence Michael Levine) – a comedic portrait of young New Yorkers in a city that’s in constant flux.
This year sees an especially strong selection of films in the Balkan strand, as a new generation of Southeast European filmmakers bring their films to London. Director Nikola Lezaic brings an excitingly fresh perspective on youth culture in Serbia with skater film Tilva Rosh. A Serbian Jackass meets Stand by Me, the film follows the exploits of two young skaters who spend their days filming their daring stunts while battling for the attention of the same girl. Serbia’s biggest-ever box office hit, Montevideo – Taste of Dream (directed by Dragan Bjelogrlic) will also screen, giving UK audiences a chance to see Serbia’s Oscar submission for 2012.
Croatian Rajko Grlic’s Just Between Us will make its UK premiere – a warm tale of infidelity charting the convoluted love lives of two brothers, their wives and their mistresses. From Bosnia comes Sevdah for Karim (directed by Jasmin Durakovic) – a contemporary drama about three friends in post-war, transitional Sarajevo, torn between their friendships and their love of Sevdah – Bosnian folk music.
Punk is not Dead from Macedonian filmmaker Vladimir Blazevski tells the story of an old school junkie who reforms his old cult punk band to perform one last gig. The Enemy (dir. Dejan Zecevic) – a Serbia-Bosnia and Herzegovina-Croatia-Hungary co-production – is a paranormal thriller about a Bosnian commando unit which starts tearing itself apart just days after the end of the Balkan war.
Among the 15 films featured in the European Cinema strand is the UK premiere of Maya – a beautifully told tale of envy and gossip from director Pluton Vasi. A man who has been living in the west returns to his village in Albania to bury his father. Having met the beautiful Maya, he wants to stay on and make a life for himself there, but a vicious web of rumour and hearsay threatens his happiness.
Leading the line-up of World Cinema in the Global Celluloid strand is the European premiere of Australian film X directed by Jon Hewitt. A thriller set in the seedy underbelly of Sydney’s sex industry, X is the story of two prostitutes forced to go on the run after witnessing the brutal result of a drug-deal gone wrong.
As always, Way Out East will showcase the latest cult offerings from Japan, including Kaidan Horror Classics – two programmes of short films from leading Japanese directors Ochiai Masayuki, Kore-eda Hirokazu, Lee Sang-il, Tsukamoto Shinya. Also screening as part of the strand are the international premieres of Synchronicity (dir. Joe Tanaka) and Youth 2 “Come As You Are (dir. Kota Yoshida).
This year’s Raindance boasts an especially strong raft of Documentaries including the European Premiere of How To Start A Revolution (directed by Ruaridh Arrow) about the world’s leading expert on nonviolent revolutions, Gene Sharp, whose publications have become the standard textbooks for revolutionaries around the world from Burma to Serbia, Egypt and Syria. Two years in the making, this timely film reveals the remarkable story of the modern revolution, the power of people to change their world, and the man behind it all.
The documentaries strand will include Uspomene 677 (directed by Mirko Pincelli) about the 677 concentration camps set up during the Bosnian war. Making its world debut is Where My Heart Beats – a doc by Swedish journalist and former refugee, Khazar Fatemi, who returns to her childhood country of Afghanistan for the first time in 20 years.
The strand also includes the European premiere of the docudrama Leaving Baghdad from Iraqi-born filmmaker Koutaiba Al-Janabi – a road movie about Saddam Hussein’s personal cameraman as he tries to escape Iraq at the end of the nineties. Winner of the Feature Films competition at the Gulf Film Festival, the drama is interwoven with real archive footage of shocking tortures and home video-style archive footage of Saddam Hussein.
Holy Rollers (dir. Bryan Storkel) follows the rise of arguably the largest and most well-funded blackjack team in America – made up entirely of churchgoing Christians.
The documentaries’ strand also includes three films from youth media brand VICE, which showcases docs and films from across the globe. The three documentaries include Roseboy – an eye-opening look at celebrity super-fans – from Sam who is so obsessed with La Roux that he’s changed his name to Sam La Roux, to British school boy Harvii who leapt to internet stardom after an image of him attempting to give Megan Fox a rose went viral. The VICE programme also includes two offerings from their ‘VICE guide to…’ series, which look at ongoing tensions in Belfast and an investigation into the mining of ‘conflict mineral’ coltan in DR Congo.
In the Raindance Symphony Orchestra strand – showcasing LGBT, experimentia and music films – cult Canadian director Bruce McDonald brings Music from the Big House. The documentary follows award-winning recording artist, Rita Chiarelli as she takes a pilgrimage to the American Deep South – the birthplace of the blues – to visit, perform and record with inmates of the Louisiana State Maximum Security Penitentiary, aka Angola Prison – once the bloodiest prison in America.
In addition to the 94 feature films, 137 shorts will also screen including Sailcloth, written and directed by Elfar Adalsteins and starring Oscar-nominated actor John Hurt. Completely without dialogue, the 17-minute short tells the story of an elderly widower (Hurt) who disappears from a nursing home to embark on one final journey on his beloved sailboat. It just won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, automatically qualifying it for Oscar consideration.