Festival Blog

Will the real COREY FELDMAN please stand up?

Sun 12/10/08 15:37

In what was the penultimate day of RAINDANCE's 16th Film Festival, Corey Feldman ruled the roost. After a Q and A session, in which Corey spoke of his incredibly turbulent career, his film - "The Birthday" opened to overwhelmingly positive response. Feldman, who was so very good in Rob Reiner's "Stand by Me", has been humbled by age and has improved immensely in the last decade or so.

 "Zebra Crossings" had a great turnout after being touted as one of the top indie films of the year. The black and white film accomplishes what few films in this day and age do; empathy. Forced to cope with their colorless lives in different ways, "Crossings" discusses - without preaching - the emptiness of living without dreams and acts to suggest that we will be hearing a lot from the talented Mr. Holland in the years to come.

 Possibly the funniest film of the festival, "One Day Removals" screened to a surprisingly large crowd given its matinee start time. This brilliantly scripted black comedy epitomizes the independent mentality and will surely go on to endure 'cult classic' status. It may be joined, also, by James Westby's "The Auteur" which cleverly deals with the direction of pornography. The mockumentary never feels exploitive nor over-the-top in its absurdity - it does, however, hilariously parody general cinema through the titles and content of the fictional Arturo Domingo's career.

Zach Boren


Here come the Cuarons...

Sun 12/10/08 15:36

On a night with a stellar line-up, including office favorite "Who is KK Downey?" and the poignant [and popular] "Dummy", it was Jonas Cuaron's "Ano Una" that proved to be the MVP.

 "Ano Una" is, quite frankly, remarkable; one of the best of the fest. The film's unconventional structure, surprisingly adept voice acting and intense emotionality help this film establish Jonas Cuaron as a director whose potential is comparable to his father's: Alfonso. Following the film's screening, father and son sat in for a Q and A where they spoke of the future and the state of independent film. The cinema was maxed out, proving that real talent is still recognized.

 "Dummy" is a fascinating character piece that deals with grief, with mourning. Its simplistic premise is expertly presented by Matthew Thompson and his young cast, for whom your heart genuinely aches. Once more, RAINDANCE had a stellar turnout. Juxtaposing "Dummy"'s angst-ridden tone, the hysterical "Who is KK Downey?" - a film which, no doubt, signifies that there is brilliant comedy clan on the horizon should Judd Apatow screw it all up.

 Earlier in the week, RAINDANCE had a night which seemed to focus on music. Tonight, it may not have been the focus but it was certainly an entertaining and enlightening alternative to the heavy cinematic dramas on show. Live performances at THE REX from a variety of up-and-comers; a hilarious rock spoof [a la "Spinal Tap"]; a Faust-centric documentary; there wasn't anything you couldn't enjoy.

Zach Boren



Fri 10/10/08 12:46

If the size of last night's crowd's are indicative of anything it's that good Independent cinema and RAINDANCE are becoming rather in-demand. I heard that attendance for this year's festival is up 40% from last year's festival; that's nuts.

The big films that drew in the big crowds last night were "L... Like Love" and "The Daisy Chain". The former's turnout was particularly surprising because of the 5:00 pm screening time. The reaction was brilliant; many attendees were particularly impressed with the effects and production quality given the film's minute budget. Strong acting turns, surreal cinematography - including a sequence in which the female protagonist shoves her head through the glass of a bathroom mirror and into a tank of clear blue water - and genuinely surprising twists and turns makes this one of the best films to come out of Eastern Europe ever.

The highlight of the night however was the World Premiere of "The Daisy Chain". The return of Aisling Walsh pulled in a near-capacity crowd. The film, equally tragic and terrifying, boasts incredible performances from Samantha Morton and, the young girl who plays the title character, Mhairi Anderson. I'd bet that this will be one of the few independent films this year to break into public consciousness.

The night wasn't finished there with the acclaimed documentary, "Alltogether Now", airing at THE REX. George MArtin showed up with his son, Gilles, and they introduced the film. Also in the audience was Les Claypool, who was amazed to see his idol, George, at Raindance. The film's UK premier was said to be "pretty damn cool". I believe it.

Zach Boren

Premiere Night at Raindance

Wed 08/10/08 13:40

Helluva lot of UK premieres: 'Little Ashes', 'Estomago', 'Tender Throbbing Twilight' and that whole Arctic Monkeys things.

"Estomago", the big winner at Berlin International Film Festival, signalled the end of the night. The Brazilian flick, which leaves you hungry in so many ways, is particularly notable because of the stunning turn of Joao Miguel - the film's lead actor. No offence intended but I was really surprised how much I liked this film; its ambiguity is refreshing.

'Tender Throbbing Twilight' and 'Little Ashes' are two films which, despite their very different subject matter, stand out due to their depiction of rarely mentioned sexual relationships. 'Tender Throbbing Twilight' rejects the fundamental rule of Japanese Pink Films: that they should be based around the exploits of young and attractive leads. Perhaps due to its deviance from the norm, the film - about older lovers - feels as if its been done with extra care. It injects a necessary emotionality into an often hollow genre. 'Little Ashes', the story of Salvador Dali, may focus on the esteemed painter's controversial relationship with another man but such subject matter did nothing to turn away the crowds. It was really well received by a big bunch of peeps. On a side note, I loved the score.

There was an musical interlude of sorts that took place at THE REX. I didn't actually get to go to the Arctic Monkey's film thingy because of popular demand but I heard it was somehow both gritty and fun. There was also a Jammin' session - Blues - which saw a decent turnout. It isn't something I've heard other prominent film festivals are doing but that just goes to show how very innovative RAINDANCE can be.

Zach Boren

An American at Raindance

The state of independents in america
Tue 07/10/08 15:18

Setting aside Raindance's reputation for promoting new talent in its home country, how about the job it's doing for America?

As I watched David Zellner's indie comedy Goliath unfurl on Sunday night, I noticed something familiar in its remarkable attention to the landscape of Austin, Texas. Likewise, its demarcation of the blank, awkward spaces threading through the course of human conversation seemed redolent of some past cinematic experience, though I couldn't identify what.

It was only after the screening that Zellner pointed out his affiliation with sirs Andrew Bujalski and Richard Linklater, which makes a whole lot of sense. Bujalski, whose face I was unfamiliar with, actually appears briefly in the film, helping superficially to anchor Goliath in this emerging scene of promising American filmmakers. It's one to rival the similar huddle mentality forming around the North Carolina School of the Arts, itself recently having spawned filmmakers like David Gordon Green, Tim Orr and Jeff Nichols.

Not to say that Zellner's style isn't his own – it is – but the prospect of recognizable aesthetic continuity, of talent breeding talent, is exciting at this point in our history given the far-flung nature of the American film scene. Maybe Austin is the new Paris, and Linklater's the new Godard… no, we don't want to head in that direction, though both do emphasize the value of a good verbal debate.

Just the story of a man and his lost cat is more than enough for now.

- Mike Spreter


Tue 07/10/08 12:46

I love Live!Ammunition!

Apparently, I'm not the only one. The BAFTA cinema where the event was held was packed with patrons, pitchers and RAINDANCE newbies. Unfortunately, due to confidentiality stuff, I cannot list the long list of ridiculous premises nor can I mention or discuss the good 'uns - and there were some. All I can say is that it was another great Live!Ammo! - the staple event of the festival. The winners were: Sosa Rossi for Schoolday, Oliver Purches for Robo Partners and Scott Parker for Birdsville, Austraila

The party moved from BAFTA to a nearby bar where pitchers and pitchees, patrons and volunteers mingled: another success.

There were alternatives to the highly publicized event. "Today, The Same Day Is Different", the highly acclaimed spanish documentary about a existentially conscious drug addict, was on show at the RAINDANCE Cineworld location. It's a really great film that provides a fresh and fascinating approach to mortality.

Other highlights include the thrilling "Clubbed" and the undoubtedly amusing "Open Mic Night" at THE REX.

Zach Boren, and the picture is by Andreas Tovan

Big Comedy

Mon 06/10/08 09:22

It was the night that the Sundance hit comedy "Goliath" aired at RAINDANCE. One of those rare funny indies, The Zellner Brothers' film will appeal to fans of Mike Judge, Ricky Gervais and everyone in between. It's universal. Anyone wanting to see the state of true independent filmmaking in America should see this film.

 However, on the off chance that you weren't digging the comedy, there was a variety of flicks on show. The highlights being two documentaries that, in terms of tone and subject matter, couldn't be more different: One, "Wings of Defeat", is a fascinating study on the nature of Kamikaze; it's dark, it's gritty and it's fresh. The other, "Agile, Mobile, Hostile", discusses the corruption of recording studios and production companies; using the life of Andre Williams as a microcosm for a generation of manipulated and forgotten musical icons.

Taste Test

Sun 05/10/08 14:32

The United Kingdom has its own culture; it has its own sports - rugby and football - and its own music - rock and punk. In typical RAINDANCE fashion, the festival decided to turn this perception on its head.

RAINDANCE introduced the American staple of Rucker Park Basketball via the thrilling documentary of "Gunnin' for that #1 Spot".

The festival acted as a showcase for the underappreciated musical instrument of the harp. Mark Levin's chilled out set was littered with mainstream hits so to put new listeners at ease.

RAINDANCE also, by pushing the boundaries of good-taste, questioned the UK's stiff-upper lip image. 'Senseless' and 'Watch Out' are some of the more daring features at the festival this year; the former is a tale of torture and the latter deals with a bizarre, but endlessly amusing, type of affection.

The day is a prime example of how RAINDANCE pioneers the alternative, independent movement in the UK: by taking risks.

Zach Boren

Raindance Goes Hollywood

Sun 05/10/08 14:31

It will undoubtedly be remembered as the night Faye Dunaway brought Hollywood to RAINDANCE. The 70's movie icon looks as good and acts as well as she did in her numerous hits - such as "Chinatown". "Flick", her supernatural thriller, screened to a sizeable audience who greeted the veteran's return warmly. You'd be hard pressed to find a more talented cast than "Flick"'s - which includes Michelle Ryan and Mark Benton.

The Film-makers party was held shortly afterwards; an event so exclusive that I wasn't allowed to attend. The exclusivity, however, didn't detract from the party's success. The few people who did attend and I got a chance to talk with said it was great to share ideas with other pros.

Never to bask in the light of super-stardom too long, RAINDANCE returned to their roots with the UK premiere of the Colombian film 'PVC 1'. Bound to go down as a South American classic, 'PVC 1' uses Hitchcockian techniques effectively to create that rare kind of genuine suspense.

RAINDANCE felt particularly big-time tonight.

Zach Boren

Raindance Meets The Classical Arts

Fri 03/10/08 12:40

Twas the day that RAINDANCE embraced the classical arts: music, photography, painting.

A brilliant second day, punctuated by the return of Damian Harris [son to the esteemed Sir Richard Harris], opened with "It's Only Rock and Roll". This documentary based around a Rolling Stone-obsession was the first of several films on show that reinforced the bond between RAINDANCE cinema and the fine art of music. "Heavy Load" and "Hip Hop Colony" continued in this vein; the former, with a premise strangely reminiscent of last year's stellar “Ex-Drummer”, shows the beauty in perseverance; the latter deals with the birth of a musical movement in a powerfully uplifting manner.

To complement these tuneful flicks, RAINDANCE provided a screening of Peter Greenaway’s “Nightwatching” - the story of Rembrandt Van Rijn - and a fresh photographic slideshow. The Sony sponsored special event that aired at THE REX compiled photographs taken by people all across the world and organized them in an appropriate and gorgeous manner. It was a night to be inspired.

Not to be forgotten, Damian Harris’ return to the director’s chair after years on hiatus. His “Gardens of the Night” was fascinating.

Opening Night Raindance

Fri 03/10/08 12:39

In the days leading up to THE RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL opening night gala, there were more than a few concerns around the office surrounding over-interest; there just weren't enough seats. The film, 'Choke', was well received by the sizeable audience; many of the patrons were particularly impressed with Sam Rockwell.

The crowds piled out of Shaftsbury Avenue's Cineworld and into Club Orchid, the venue of the after-party. They were joined by the hundreds who were unable to get tickets to the in-demand screening. RAINDANCE patrons fully embraced the old saying "drink, dance and be merry" and they celebrated the start of the festival into the wee hours of the morn. Independent cinema is rarely this popular.

Zach Boren

A big thanks to our volunteers

Mon 29/09/08 07:57

Without the energy, support and enthusiasm of our volunteers, the Raindance Film Festival would struggle to stay afloat. Having volunteered at the last festival, I found myself being invited back to be their coordinator this year. It sounds like quite a simple job, simply telling people where they need to be and when, but I’ve spent most of the last fortnight surrounded by nearly 100 CVs and application forms, and speaking to more voicemail services than human beings. It’s certainly made me appreciate the amount of work that goes into the whole thing!

I first discovered Raindance in 2003 and it’s held a special place in my heart ever since. I’ve yet to find another festival that shows such a diverse range of fantastic features from across the globe, along with some truly outstanding documentaries. It’s given me a chance to meet some personal heroes (such as Shane Meadows in 2004) and network with some future colleagues. It’s given me the chance to pitch to a room of 200 people at Live! Ammunition, and gain the confidence in my ideas from their laughter (in all the right places). And this year, I even get to host some Q&As. I can’t wait!

Whether you’re a Raindance veteran or a festival novice, you’ll always get something out of those two weeks every autumn. And having seen the standard of our line-up, I’m genuinely excited about what we have on offer this year.

Chris Presswell

Volunteer Coordinator

Raindance Runs On Volunteer-Power

Thanks to our volunteers
Sun 28/09/08 09:28

About 90% of Raindance Film Festival is run and operated on generous donations of time and energy from out many talented and energetic volunteers. We'd like to take a moment out before the craziness of the festival to thank them, pictured here in the lobby of the Cineworld Shaftesbury getting ready to work.