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It's Raining Film at RAINDANCE

 

Well, no one ever accused London of hogging too much of the world's great weather. In fact, it can be said that one of the reasons for the imperialistic urges of the British Empire was to find sunny climes and get out of the fucking rain. Well, rain is not a bad thing when it is a celluloid downpour, and that is what is on tap when the 18th edition of the Raindance Film Festival begins in London on Wednesday evening.

This year’s lineup, which includes 69 UK Premieres, is a coup for the Festival, which is unique in Britain for its mix of eclectic international and independent films, as well as  special live events, exclusive Q&As and master classes. The Festival runs from 29 September to 10 October at its home of Apollo Cinema right in the heart of Piccadilly Circus.

 

Opening the festivities on Wednesday, 29 September is  JACKBOOTS ON WHITEHALL, a satirical animation about an alternative history of World War II where the Nazis seize London and England must band together to prevent a full on invasion. A who's who of British acting talent provides voiceovers in the tall tale, including the likes of Ewan McGregor, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Timothy Spall, Tom Wilkinson, Alan Cumming, Richard Griffiths, Stephen Merchant and Richard O’Brien. It will be followed by an after-party with live set from rising US indie band stars The Airborne Toxic Event and DJ set from one of the most influential DJs in the UK – Andrew Weatherall. The following day will be a special screening of ALL I EVER WANTED – a music documentary following Airborne Toxic Event as they face their biggest ever event at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.


Closing the festival on Sunday, 10 October, is SON OF BABYLON, the much hyped Iraqi film that is the country's entry in the race for the Oscar and has already won two awards at Berlin International Film Festival and one at Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Mohamed Al Daradji, this is the poignant story of a young boy who follows his grandmother in a journey across Iraq in the hopes of finding her son and his father who never returned from war.

Raindance is all about buzz titles culled from the international film festival circuit, so expect to see a wide range of genres and filmmaking talents make their way to London for the next two weeks. The Festival, never afraid to court controversy, is playing host to such edgy fare as A SERBIAN FILM (Srdjan Spasojevic), an allegorical film highlighted by its taste for pedophilia, necrophilia, incest and all things nasty; LA ZOMBIE, a gay zombie porno by cult filmmaker Bruce La BruceDIRTY DIARIES, a collection of thirteen pornographic short films made by Swedish feminist directors; and BEDWAYS, a sexual triangle fantasy set in the ultra-trendy bohemian enclave of Berlin's Mitte.

Documentaries are always strong at the event and this year's program is especially mighty, including such anticipated titles as STOLEN (Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw), a powerful look at  human slavery in a United Nations refugee camp; THIS WAY OF LIFE (Thomas Burstyn), an intimate portrait of New Zealand horse-whispirer and philosopher Peter Karena;  VAMPIRES, a Belgian faux documentary following the lives of four vampires who are extremely bored with immortality; WHEN THE WORLD BREAKS, a survival story of life  during the Great Depression of the 1930s.; and  ROUGE CIEL, a French film about the  extraordinary artists and visionaries who set our spirits ablaze with their imagination.

If you want to check the pulse of UK indie cinema, Raindance is definitely the place to do so. Films that are being showcased in this indispensable part of the event include HUGE (Ben Miller), the rollicking story of the friendship and and dreams of two comedians;  OLLIE KEPLER’S EXPANDING PURPLE WORLD (Viv Fongenie), a darkly comic tale about a young man who is desperately battling with his growing madness; FIVE DAUGHTERS (Phillipa Lowthorpe), a disturbing look at the last few weeks of the five women murdered in Ipswich in 2006; LEGACY (Thomas Ikimi), a psychological thriller about Blacks Ops operative Malcolm Gray who the demons of his past actions that start to haunt him; REBELS WITHOUT A CLUE (Ian Vernon); THE SOUND OF MUMBAI: A MUSICAL (Sarah McCarthy); LUMMOX (Peter Boyd Maclean) and Paul Hills' DO ELEPHANTS PRAY?

American Indies are always welcome at Raindance and this year's program includes some very smart and smoldering films including ARMLESS, a dark comedy about a man who suffers from Body Integrity Identity Disorder;  FLOODING WITH LOVE FOR THE KID directed by Zachary Oberzan, INCREDIBLY SMALL directed by Dean Peterson, MACHO directed by Rafael Palacio Illingworth, TREASURE OF THE BLACK JAGUAR directed by Mike Bruce, VACATION! by Zach Clark, WHEN THE WORLD BREAKS by Hans Fjellestad and THE LAKE EFFECT by Tara Miele.

 

A definite must on the festival calendar is the 5 October master class to be given by UK director Mike Newell. He will be interviewed on the state of the Apollo Cinema about his life and career spanning five decades of film, including such UK and US milestones as FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, DONNIE BRASCO and HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE. The interview will be followed by a screening of his film INTO THE WEST.

Add to that strong entries from New Zealand. Eastern Europe, Germany, Belgium, Bosnia and Japan, and supremely chic special events and music concerts, and you have more than enough reasons to stay out of the London rain and head indoors for the Raindance.

For the full Festival program, visit:  www.raindance.co.uk

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Circuit Editor

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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

Coverage of the world of film festivals on the international film festival circuit.


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