The Raindance Film Festival has announced its award winners at a ceremony in London. British filmmaker Ken Loach received the Festival’s first Raindance Auteur Award while The Shepherd, Gozo and Zen Dog picked up some of the top prizes.
Hosted by Raindance Founder, Elliot Grove, jury members Joanna Lumley and Johnny McDaid were also in attendance to present awards to the winners. The winning films were selected from 14 categories by the Festival’s jury members, which also included Stephen Fry, Imelda Staunton, Olivia Colman, Matthew Lewis, Nicholas Pinnock and conceptual artist David Datuna, among many others.
With the 24th edition coming to a close this weekend, the Festival received a record-breaking number of submissions from 98 countries, the highest it has received to date, and screened 108 feature films and 85 short films. With newly introduced strands including Women in Film, LGBT, a VR Arcade and China Day, the Festival also showcased its fourth annual Web Fest, second annual Co-production Forum, a Music strand and also hosted an array of creative industry panels, including the ever popular Live! Ammunition! event, which provides filmmakers with the opportunity to pitch ideas for their films to a panel of industry executives.
The Shepherd was the biggest winner of the Festival, receiving three awards: Best Film, Best Director for Jonathan Cenzual Burley and Best Actor for Miguel Martin. A film about corporate greed, The Shepherd follows a man whose home and livelihood is threatened by a big construction company that will stop at nothing to take his land.
Best Screenplay was awarded to Joaquin del Paso and Lucy Pawlak for Panamerican Machinery, a film about a group of employees who discover their dead boss in the back of their office warehouse.
Camila Romagnolo received the Best Actress honour for her role in Hortensia, for which she skillfully portrays a woman whose life takes a turn for the worst, but when she finds a letter written by her fourteen-year-old self, it reinvigorates her motivation to fulfill her aspirations.
Miranda Bowen’s Gozo was awarded Best UK Feature. The film follows a couple who have decided to immigrate to an idyllic Mediterranean island only to discover that they are unable to escape the horrors of their past.
Best Documentary went to LGBT film Growing Up Coy, about a young Colorado family’s highly publicised legal battle for their six-year-old transgender daughter’s right to use the girls’ bathroom at school.
Łukasz Grzegorzek’s Kamper received the Discovery Award for Best Debut Feature. The film follows a young couple whose relationship is challenged by the husband’s immaturity and they must decide whether their relationship should continue.
The Indie Award went to Rudolf Buitendach’s Selling Isobel. Based on true events that took place in London, the film shines a light on the global sex slave industry and is a harrowing story of survival, following a woman who is kidnapped, drugged and raped by several men over 3 days before finally managing to escape.
The Film of the Festival Award went to Rick Darge’s Zen Dog. The film follows a man whose daily routine and comfortable life is altered when he takes up lucid dreaming and discovers more than he bargained for.
The film generated a lot of buzz during the Festival, particularly from Raindance Founder Elliot Grove who stated that, “We chose Zen Dog as Film of the Festival because of the spirit in which it was made. It takes on a meditative magic carpet ride of the Dreamworld and looks at how we can influence both our dreams and waking life. The film cleverly weaves in the spiritual with the philosophical.”