In response to the global pandemic, the 28th Raindance Film Festival will this year safely proceed as a hybrid of remote engagement and live activity, running 28 October – 7 November online and live in London.

Raindance recognises the need to radically adapt the usual festival format. Raindance also acknowledges the vital role that film plays in unifying, informing and inspiring people. The festival experience has therefore been refined, enabling Raindance to provide safe engagement whilst delivering all the atmosphere, affinity and camaraderie you’d expect from Britain’s biggest independent film festival. 

“This year more than ever, we need the medium of film to unite us, inspire us, and help us to feel empowered and not isolated. No matter where you are in the UK, as long as you have a screen you can be a part of the Raindance Film Festival. There’s no stopping us.”

Elliot Grove

The Raindance Film Festival will officially start on 28th October with the UK Premiere of Stardust, directed by Gabriel Range. Stardust stars Johnny Flynn (Emma, Beast) as a young David Bowie embarking on his first trip to America, revealing the inspirations and life events that gave birth to his iconic alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, charting the transformation of one of the world’s greatest cultural icons. BAFTA-nominated director Gabriel Range will attend this red carpet event at The May Fair Hotel in London, and take part in a post-screening Q&A. The gala will have reduced audience capacity to adhere to social-distancing guidelines, and specially designed Raindance masks will be provided.

Via online platform Shift72, this year’s festival will take the fascinating, multifaceted world of indie film to every corner of the UK, from Aberdeen to York, via anything from smartphones to cinematic LED TVs. Wherever you can connect to Wi-Fi, you can connect with Raindance.

Comprising 50 film premieres, the online programme of independent features and documentaries is a cinematic snapshot of today’s world. And to make this the biggest and most accessible edition of Raindance ever, the full online programme of films, shorts, Q&As and VR experiences will be offered for FREE (pay-what-you-can donations are encouraged to help Raindance to continually support and champion indie film in the UK – and to celebrate the 28th Raindance, 28% of proceeds will be donated to charity.)

Recognising that COVID-19 is just one of many issues impacting our planet, strands encapsulate topics as diverse as the environment, inequality and creativity, altogether celebrating the cultural influence of cinema.

FILM HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:

A DIRTY WORLD: an eye-opening presentation of environmental films screening in partnership with conservation organization The Nature Conservancy. 

THE GREAT GREEN WALL (dir: Jared P. Scott, UK). UK Premiere. Executive produced by Oscar-nominee Fernando Meirelles (City of God), it follows Malian musician, actress and UN Ambassador, Inna Modja on an epic journey along Africa’s ambitious Great Green Wall.

THE PRICE OF PROGRESS (dir: Victor Luengo, Spain). UK Premiere. Documenting both sides of the argument around the controversy of GMO foods.

ONCE YOU KNOW (dir: Emmanuel Cappellin, France). UK Premiere. Exploring energy depletion and runaway climate change, it questions how will we cope with an ending world.

POLITICO: stories of social and political significance. 

CITIZEN PENN (dir: Don Hardy, USA). European Premiere. Actor and filmmaker Sean Penn joins aid workers from around the world to help the relief effort following 2010’s devastating Haiti earthquake.

I AM NOT A HERO (dir: Pablo Crutzen Diaz, Robin Smit, Stijn Deconinck, Belgium). European Premiere. Timely and often harrowing portrayal of Belgian health workers combating COVID-19.

APRIL 7, 1980 (dir: Nadav Schirman, Israel). World Premiere. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Nadav Schirman (The Green Prince) directs this tense hostage drama set in a Kibbutz nursery.

ARTY: a cinematic canvas of diverse creative processes.

HE DREAMS OF GIANTS (dir: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe, UK). UK Premiere. Following their 2002 documentary Lost In La Mancha, filmmakers Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe return to follow Terry Gilliam’s new (successful) attempt at filming The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

UPROOTED: THE JOURNEY OF JAZZ DANCE (dir: Khadifa Wong, USA). International Premiere. Exploring the lineage and future progressions of jazz dance, from its Afro-American roots to Broadway, with contributors including Debbie Allen and Joshua Bergasse.

FEMALE GAZE: a viewpoint covering everything from motherhood to relationships, desire to abuse.

WILLOW (dir: Milcho Manchevski, Republic of North Macedonia/Hungary/Belgium). UK Premiere. This Academy Award nominated and Venice Golden Lion winning director portrays three women from medieval times and the present as they struggle to become mothers.

FORCE OF HABIT (dir: Reetta Aalto, Alli Haapasalo, Anna Paavilainen, Kirsikka Saari, Miia Tervo, Elli Toivoniemi, Jenni Toivoniemi, Finland). UK Premiere. Seven directors depict the lives of various women on one day; their stories illustrate the normality of sexual harassment and abuse.

THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE (dir: Maria Finitzo, USA). UK Premiere. Executive produced by Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple, it follows four women artists/activists who aim to shatter myths by celebrating the clitoris and female sexual pleasure. 

ABSURDITIES: surreal and unconventional narratives, just right for every film nerd.

NOT TO BE UNPLEASANT, BUT WE NEED TO HAVE A SERIOUS TALK (dir: Giorgos Georgopoulos, Greece). UK Premiere. Dark comedy about a womanizer who must inform his ex-girlfriends that he’s a carrier of a sexually transmitted virus, lethal only for women.

THE EAGLE’S NEST (dir: Olivier Assoua, UK). UK Premiere. The story of two girls from Cameroon intent on migrating to Europe, they’re portrayed as unlikely superheroes in this surreal fantasy with a rich impression of African culture.

SONICA: a brand new strand supported by Spotify, resonating with music documentaries and live performances.

DIFFERENT JOHNS (dir: Robert Carr, France). European Premiere. Feature documentary exploring the different lives of John Cohen: folk musician, photographer, filmmaker, and one of the great faces of the 50s Beat Generation.

JIMMY IS PUNK (dir: Duco Donk, The Netherlands), UK Premiere. A punk story about the 1976 Dutch band Panic: capturing the pure undiluted spirit of punk. 

QUEER: the full rainbow spectrum of LGBTQ+ cinema.

A DIM VALLEY (dir: Brandon Colvin, USA). International Premiere. In this queer hallucinogenic fairytale, a biologist and his two pot-smoking assistants working deep in the Appalachian woods encounter a trio of mystical backpackers.

BORN TO BE (dir: Tania Cypriano, USA). UK Premiere. An intimate look at how the work of Dr Jess Ting at New York’s groundbreaking Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery impacts the lives of his patients, as well as his own life.

GENERATION Z: hot on the heels of the Millennials comes a fresh point of view.

NUCLEAR (dir: Catherine Linstrum, UK). UK Premiere. The feature debut by Cannes Un Certain Regard and Welsh BAFTA award-winning short filmmaker Catherine Linstrum, this tense drama stars George MacKay, Emilia Jones, Sienna Guillory and Oliver Coopersmith.

OUR OWN (dir: Jeanne Leblanc, Canada). European Premiere. Rising star Emilie Bierre plays a 13-year old who falls pregnant in this complex and compelling small-town drama.

DISCOVERY: the place to find maverick works by first-time filmmakers. 

MY THOUGHTS ARE SILENT (dir: Antonio Lukich, Ukraine). UK Premiere. A champion at festivals including Karlovy Vary, this oddball drama follows an over-tall sound engineer and his diminutive mother, as they head to the mountains to record the sound of a very rare bird. 

EASTERN (dir: Piotr Adamski, Poland). A brutal, gun-wielding tale of two families entangled in a never-ending blood vendetta.

SURVIVAL SKILLS (dir: Quinn Armstrong, USA). European Premiere. Presented as a lost training video from the 1980s, with Golden Globe winner Stacy Keach as narrator, it tells of a good policeman trying to resolve a domestic violence case.

To enhance the festival experience there’ll be an inventive programme of extras such as virtual red carpets, and live-streamed Q&As, DJ sessions and live performances. This additional activity will fully utilise the tools and platforms we’ve become familiar with during lockdown such as Zoom, Instagram Live and Facebook Live.

AWARDS AND JURY

The Raindance Film Festival awards system honours features and documentaries in eight categories: Best International Film, Best UK Film, Best Director, Best Performance, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Discovery, Best Documentary.

This year’s jury comprises: Jeremy Irons, Stephanie Beacham, Aki Omoshaybi (Real), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Gangs of London), Kris Hitchen (Sorry We Missed You), Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty), Elizabeth Henstridge (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), Esme Creed-Miles (Hanna), Jessica Brown Findlay (Harlots), Thomas Brodie Sangster (Maze Runner), Georgie Henley (The Chronicles Of Narnia), Sam Spruell (Starred Up), Sophie Kennedy Clark (Nymphomaniac), Ariyon Bakare (His Dark Materials), Colman Domingo (Fear The Walking Dead), Conor MacNeill (Industry), Ruthxjiah Bellenea (The Last Tree), Tom Payne (Prodigal Son), director Edward Watts (For Sama), actor and director Ray Panthaki (Colette), drag royalty and TV personality Baga Chipz, and model and actress Lily Cole.

For more information about the Raindance Film Festival go to https://www.raindance.org/festival/

Press release provided by Raindance Film Festival.

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About View of the Arts

We are open-minded individuals, for whom there are no limits. We always seem to spend our last few pennies on the arts instead of bread and butter! Oh well, it’s worth it! You will always find us in a cinema, at film festivals, fashion shows, concerts, galleries or the theatre. We are a group of female film critics, arts journalists, and photographers.

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