Raindance Film Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with a bumper line-up of eclectic independent cinema from around the world with the UK premiere of Atsuko Hirayanagi’s Oh Lucy! starring Josh Hartnett headlining opening night.
The Raindance Film Festival has announced its highly anticipated line-up in full, which includes world, international, European and UK premieres. Celebrating its 25th year, the Festival will take place in London’s West End from September 20 to October 1, 2017.
Elliot Grove, Raindance Founder, said: “This year’s 25th anniversary Festival has been made possible by a dynamic relationship with Lexus, who like Raindance, champion pioneering technology, innovation and craftsmanship.”
Raindance Founder Elliot Grove was joined by jury member, actor Jamie Campbell Bower (Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 & 2) as they revealed this year’s competition films in the UK Features, Documentaries, Shorts and Web Series categories, as well as the programme for the hotly anticipated Virtual Reality strand.
The UK Premiere of Atsuko Hirayanagi’s Oh Lucy! (Japan), starring Josh Hartnett, has been announced as the opening night film. The film is a drama-comedy and tells the story of Setsuko Kawashima, a lonely, chain-smoking office lady in Tokyo who is past her prime and adopts an American alter ego.
The International Premiere of Stuck by Michael Berry, starring Giancarlo Eposito (Okja) and Amy Madigan (Gone Baby Gone) is an original pop musical film about six strangers who get stuck underground on a New York City subway together and change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They are different races, cultures and ages. The emotions of the trapped strangers fly as they reveal who they really are through song.
The Festival received a record-breaking number of submissions this year from over 120 countries, the highest it has received to date and will screen over 200 projects – including features, shorts, webfest, VR and music videos. A champion of independent filmmaking, Raindance is the largest independent film festival in Europe and has consistently been a great supporter of the UK film industry.
Along with Jamie Campbell Bower, this year’s competition films will be judged by a panel of industry members and film journalists including, Ex-BIFA director Johanna Von Fischer and acclaimed Spanish producer Rosa Bosch, and some of the best names in British talent, including Jack O’Connell (Money Monster, Unbroken), Sean Bean (Game Of Thrones, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy), Christopher Eccleston (Thor, Dr Who), Ewen Bremner (Wonder Woman, Trainspotting), Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones series, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Training Day, Broadchurch), Nicholas Lyndhurst (A United Kingdom, Only Fools and Horses), Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Hotel Rwanda, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End), Josh Whitehouse (Poldark, Northern Soul), Neil Marshall (Westworld, Game Of Thrones) and Rachel Portman (One Day, Chocolat).
To recognize the outstanding achievements of this year’s filmmakers, the jury will go through each of the Feature Films, selected for Official Competition, in the following categories; Best Film, Best Director, Best screenplay, Best Performance. Films nominated in these categories include the international premiere of Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak’s feature debut, Maya Dardel (USA), starring Lena Olin and Rosanna Arquette, which tells the story of a famous writer, who states her intention to end her own life during an interview on NPR, and invites male writers to compete to become the executor of her estate; Tony Gatlif’s Djam (France/Greece/Turkey) follows a young Greek woman who, sent to Istanbul by her uncle, embarks on a life-changing journey made of music, encounters and hope, Mukoku (Japan), tells the story of a security guard, whose best days are behind, until a chance encounter changes everything.
Additional features include both narratives and documentaries vying for Best UK Film, Best Documentary and the coveted Discovery Award, which is given to Best Debut Film. Films nominated in these categories include; the World Premiere of In Another Life (UK), Jason Wingard’s directional debut, set against the backdrop of the Calais Jungle, where refugee Adnan battles to be reunited with his wife in the UK; The Family I Had (USA), directed by female co-directors Katie Green and Carlyle Rubin, is a documentary featuring a mother recalling how her teenage son shattered their idyllic family through one violent act; ; Heitor Dhalia’s On Yoga The Architecture Of Peace (Brazil / USA) is based on Michael O’Neill’s book of the same name, and tells the story of the 10 years the author spent photographing Yoga’s great masters; RiverBlue: Can Fashion Save The Planet? by David McIlvrid and Roger Williams, follows internationally celebrated river conservationist Mark Angelo on an around-the-world journey by river that uncovers the dark side of the fashion industry.
Other noteworthy films playing at the festival include You Are Killing Me Susana (Mexico / Canada), by Roberto Sneider, producer of Frida, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal, and tells the story of a Mexican native adapting to life in the USA; Michelle Schumacker’s I’m Not Here (USA) starring J.K. Simmons, about a man who is struggling with the tragic memories of his past to make sense of his present, but soon realises that time isn’t the enemy he thinks it is; Black Butterfly (Italy) by Brian Goodman, which stars Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, is set in mountain town grappling with a series of abductions and murders, a reclusive writer offers a drifer a place to stay following a brief encounter, which sees the men battle a game of one-upmanship; Tabbert Fiiller’s The Public Image Is Rotten (USA) starring John Lydon, tells the story of Public Image Ltd, formed by Johnny Rotten in 1978 within months of the demise of the Sex Pistols.
The international Short Film competition slate includes the UK premiere of Jeannie Donohoe’s, Game (USA), produced by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, about a new kid in town who turns up at the high school boys basketball tryouts and instantly makes an impression; multi award winning director, Dea Kulumbegahsvili’s, Lethe, (France / Georgia) follows a lonely horseman, who wanders past the river of forgetfulness and through a rural Georgian village; Goddess (India / USA), directed by Karishma Dube, tells the story of being a closeted lesbian in contemporary India.
UK short films includes the European Premiere of critically acclaimed director Eva Riley’s Diagnosis, about a woman’s secret evening job as a medical role play actress; Nathaniel Martello-White’s Cla’am, nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW, is a dark comedy about a local man who becomes convinced that a vast conspiracy is behind the gentrification in his London neighbourhood; the World Premiere of 46, by Joseph A. Adesunloye, tells the story of two friend’s hosting a party, that was meant to be a night of fun without responsibilities, which turns out be a nightmare for one of them.
The Women In Film and LGBT strands will include a specific selection of films as well as industry panels that emphasize the contribution women and LGBT communities are making to the industry and the current challenges they face.
The LGBT strand will showcase legendary queer director Bruce LaBruce’s latest feature, The Misandrists (Germany), about a young man who unknowingly is taken in by members of the Female Liberation Army – a lesbian separatist stronghold; Becks (USA), co-directed by Daniel Powell and Rebecca Drysdale, starring Mena Suvari, sees a Brooklyn musician move back in with her Midwestern mother, after a crushing breakup with her girlfriend. As she navigates her hometown, playing for tip money in an old friend’s bar, an unexpected relationship unfolds; Travis Mathews’, Discreet (Germany) tells the story of an eccentric drifter who returns home and discovers his childhood abuser is still alive.
This year’s films directed by women include Leslie Ann Coles’ debut documentary Melody Makers (UK) which stars Melody Maker Magazine’s Chief Contributing Photographer, Barrie Wentzel, who tells the story of the rise and fall of the magazine, which marked the end to a style of rock ‘n’ roll journalism that no longer exists today; Barrage (Luxembourg / Belgium / France) directed by Laura Schroeder, stars Academy Award nominee Isabelle Huppert, and her real life daughter Lolita Chammah, following the journey of Catherine (Chammah), who is returning to Luxembourg after ten years abroad, to catch up with her young daughter who has been brought up by Catherine’s mother (Huppert), and kidnaps her taking her on a road trip; City Of Joy (USA) is Madeline Gavin’s inspiring documentary following the first class of students at a remarkable leadership centre in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a region often referred as “the worst place in the world to be a woman”.
Running between September 28 – October 1, the newly established virtual reality strand will feature the Raindance VRX Awards, VRX Summit, VRX Market and the VR Arcade. The brand new VRX awards will recognise pioneering virtual reality experiences in 10 categories: Best Interactive Narrative Experience, Best Mobile Interactive Experience, Best Cinematic Narrative Experience, Best Documentary Experience, Best Animation Experience, Best Music Experience, Best Branded Experience, Best Sensual Experience, Best Social Impact Experience and Best Sound Design Experience.
The VRX Awards Jury members include immersive storytelling visionaries such as Vicki Dobbs Beck of ILMxLAB, Jenna Pirog of The New York Times, Resh Sidhu of Framestore and leaders from Facebook, Samsung, Google, Pixar, Disney, ustwo games and more.
The VR Arcade, open to the public between September 29 – October 1, will allow audience members to experience the latest advances in storytelling by showcasing selected experiences by Raindance VRX Awards nominees. These will include 360º films and interactive experiences such as the World Premiere of Ray, a VR fairy tale directed by Raindance alumni Rafael Pavón that combines 360º stereoscopic video with visual effects and voice recognition to interact with a curious beam of light; the World Premiere of Manifest 99 by Flight School Studio, an eerie story about finding redemption in the afterlife—stare into the eyes of characters to transport to their point of view and move about on a mysterious train, rambling through an unknown void; the World Premiere of Peroration Six, a 360º live action performance by musician Sam Shepherd and his band Floating Points that takes you on a supernatural journey in the Utah desert; and the World Premiere of Second Date directed by Jennifer Lyon Bell, an unscripted portrait of two people fumbling towards sensual ecstasy. In a significant departure from typical VR representations of sex, Second Date encourages the viewer to intimately share the couple’s physical space, portraying their sexuality in an emotionally realistic way.
Programmed around the VRX Awards categories, the Raindance VRX Summit will bring together nominees and Jury members to celebrate pioneering work in VR. Held on September 29, the day will be packed with talks and panel discussions featuring creators across all mediums—filmmakers, game developers, animators, sound designers, musicians, Quill and Tilt Brush artists—all coming together to share new ideas.
Submissions for the Raindance VRX Market are currently open to independent creators seeking funding for the completion of their 360º films and VR experiences. The Market on September 28 will serve as a platform to meet funders and pitch projects in development.
The Festival’s unique Web Series will again provide filmmakers with the opportunity to tap into the online video industry. Web Series’ nominated films include Tom Kingsley’s BBC Three YouTube series Pls Like (UK), starring comedian’s Liam Williams and Tim Key, is a brutally hilarious mockumentary satirizing YouTube vloggers; I Gotta Be Me (UK), directed by Steven Bloomer, is about a frustrated soap star who joins a Rat Pack tribute act as his hero Sammy Davis Junior; Hugh O’Shea and Phillip Whiteman’s Millenial Theory is an Instagram series that follows two halfwits who believe themselves to be enlightenment gurus; Think Nathan Barley meets Eckhart Tolle.
Live! Ammunition! Is Raindance’s acclaimed ‘pitching’ event. Audiences over the world have pitched movie ideas to panels of film executives, film makers and other industry professionals, as they try to make their way through the film sector. For our 25th Raindance Film Festival, Live Ammo! will have a top panel and once again, film makers will pitch to the people who matter, as they decide what will be made and what won’t. To pitch, participants just drop a fiver in the hat, and the floor is theirs for two minutes. They can and will be gonged off if they are boring! Previous panelists include Ewan McGregor, Alberto Lopez (International Director, Variety), and Denise Parkinson (Global Entertainment Director, The Telegraph Group) and for this year, we welcome back Dean Cross from Vue Entertainment and Tara Barnett, Sales Manager from 20th Century Fox.
The Festival’s third Co-production Forum will focus on the relationship between the UK and Italian film industries. Raindance, ICE (Italian Trade Agency), ANICA (Italian National Association of Film and Audiovisual Industry) and MiBACT (Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism), are hosting this forum in partnership with Variety. UK independent producers, distribution, production and sales companies are invited to join Raindance on this unique opportunity, to meet and partner, with Italian producers and create new co-production business opportunities.
In recognition of the plethora of filmmaking talent in China, Raindance is proud to launch its inaugural China Day, taking place on September 25th at The Mayfair Hotel, in conjunction with our Chinese partners, Dreamax – a Beijing based production and distribution outfit. China Day is a day of screenings and panel discussions on how filmmakers can access the Chinese markets, and how Chinese filmmakers can meet and work with European partners.
On today’s programme announcement, Grove commented; “I am thrilled with the calibre of films submitted for this year’s Festival. Our programmers to select an excellent line-up. For 25 years, Raindance has continued to grow and support the independent film industry in the UK and abroad. I’m looking forward to showcasing this year’s great line-up and new strands to our audience.”