By the time you’re in your twenties, the chances are you will have made a name for yourself in some description. You might have seen the world, probably been around a bit so whether the reputation you’re creating is for being a bit of a floozy, a bit controversial or a bit edgy, it can be a defining time for us all. So it’s no wonder all eyes are on Raindance Film Festival as it celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2012.
Making its return to the Apollo Cinema in Piccadilly Circus from 26 September – 7 October, Raindance is back to deliver a fresh dose of filmic talent from the UK and beyond. This year’s line-up includes 105 features, over 138 shorts and 64 UK premieres, 13 international premieres and 20 world premieres – with a programme boasting stats like this, it’s clear how Raindance has established its reputation as the UK’s biggest and most exciting independent film festival. No stranger to controversy and boundary pushing – we’re looking at you A Serbian Film – Raindance prides itself on a no holds barred approach to showcasing genre-spanning films and embracing a feel of daring discovery for audience and filmmakers alike.
Bookending the festival with two premieres, Raindance opens with an international premiere. Mexican fantasy horror, Here Comes The Devil sees a married couple lose their children near some caves in Tijuana, yet when they inexplicably return, it seems the kids aren’t quite who they used to be. Closing business on 7 October, the Paraguayan 7 Crates, following the decisions of Victor and the lengths he’ll go to get a TV set, gets its UK premiere. These two films also feature in the Latin American Strand, also including Die Standing Up and My Universe in Lower Case, an homage to Mexico City as a young girl searches the city’s many Juarez Streets to find her old family home.
Further to home, the UK Homegrown Strand showcases the best in British filmmaking talent boasting three world premieres; Christopher Payne’s Love Tomorrow, co-produced by The Ballet Boyz, follows the life and loves of a couple brought together their passion for dance in London, City Slacker is a slick comedy starring Tom Conti and Confine sees a heist with Daisy Lowe and Alfie Allen go terribly wrong. Also championing the Brits, String Caesar sees Derek Jacobi as Caesar brought into the 21st Century with real life prisoners.
Keeping its geography theme, Raindance’s programme features an American Indie Strand – with a world premiere of Rudol Buitendach’s Dark Hearts and Raindance prize winner Suri Krishnama’s The Grief Tourist - and a European Strand with ultra-low budget feature on love and dementia, Heavy Girls, romantic comedy The Practical Guide to Belgrade with Singing and Crying from Serbia and the intriguingly titled Vegetarian Cannibal from Croatia.
Keeping us educated about the weird and wonderful, the Documentary Stand includes an exploration of real E.T.s in Hidden Hand and murder fantasties in Zero Killed while Raindance Symphony Orchestra Strand continues the festival’s dedication to music and alternative culture with My Father and the Man in Black, presenting the untold story of Johnny Cash and his troubled manager Saul Holiff.
Add this to an impressive selection of shorts with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Malcom MacDowell in No Rest for the Wicked, Jennifer Lopez in Life & Freaky Times of Uncle Luke and Wonder starring Diana Hardcastle and Henry Goodman. The winner of ‘Film of the Festival Award’ will automatically go through to the Oscar shortlist for best short, making Raindance one of only two British film festivals with this honour. Raindance will also welcome American novelist and journalist Chuck ‘Fight Club’ Palahniuk as he introduces his short film Romance and hosts a fund-raising dinner for the Independent Film Trust (IFT), the UK charity which works to promote the cause of independent film-making.
Raindance looks set to enter its twenties in style, keeping the faith in emerging film talent and proving that just because you’re low budget doesn’t mean you have to be cheap.
Raindance Film Festival takes place from Wednesday 26 September to Sunday 7 October at:
19 Regent Street
Raindance Film Festival Award winners will be announced at 6pm on Saturday 6 October at the Apollo Cinema.