14th Raindance Film Festival
Rebellion rules! Out go big budgets and reworked-to-death cliched storylines. In come freshly squeezed UK filmmaking talent, a bundle of global goodies and bucketfuls of advice on how to write, pitch and make the next big thing in cult film. It can only be Raindance…
On its opening and closing nights, Raindance heralds new British filmmaking talents. Opening the proceedings on Wednesday 27th September are directing duo KEITH FULTON and LOUIS PEPE with their debut feature BROTHERS OF THE HEAD. Starring Luke and Harry Treadway as conjoined twins, who are plucked, pruned and preened into a rock band by a music promoter, it’s a dark tale full of weirdness and great music and one of the best films of the year. Closing the fest on Sunday 8th October is director Ed Blum’s Scenes of a Sexual Nature, a witty and moving account of modern relationships.
Both films set the tone for the glut of British filmmaking talent on offer. Oliver Ralfe & James Bluemel’s The Ballad of AJ Weberman (pictured) is a documentary about the man who stalked Bob Dylan and is a funny and disturbing look at obsession. On a budget of £60k, director Paul Andrew Williams constructs a sharply observed piece around a group of people on a train from London to Brighton. Director Sepp R. Brudermann challenges the negative views around ‘squatting’ in 5 ½ Roofs and a Brixton squat is the setting for a story of a clash of two cultures - Yardie gangs and dissident Irish republicans - in director Mark Hammond’s Johnny Was. The fantastically titled The Mozambique Poo Tour, directed by Phil Turner, follows a group of musicians and filmmakers who leave behind their home comforts to see first hand the problems associated with inadequate sanitation and hygiene practices. Punctuated by camaraderie and great music, it highlights the hardships faced by the communities, but has an uplifting spirit in its demonstration of how small amounts of money can make a world of difference. David and Jacqui Morris’s Mr. Right is a London-set comedy-drama about four couples, three of them gay, who navigate the trials and tribulations of couple-dom to a thumping soundtrack featuring Kaiser Chiefs and band of the moment Scissor Sisters.
American indies worth checking out include director Tony Kaye’s Lakes of Fire which centres around the emotive abortion debate that rages still across America today. The documentary was twenty years in the making and doesn’t pull any punches in the arguments presented. Goran Dukic’s Wristcutters: A Love Story is a bizarre, beautifully executed romantic comedy about a suicidal man who slashes his wrist and is catapulted into an alternative Earth inhabited by other ‘wristcutters’, and a constant stream of Kurt Cobain and Nick Drake music. Micheal Tully’s Cocain Angel is a drug addict film that flies in the face of the genre with its central character, Damian Lahey, a junkie with a job, an ex-wife, a daughter and a car… a life.
This year’s music picks includes Jonathan Demme’s Neil Young: Heart of Gold, a documentary shot over a two-night performance at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and differs from most music-doco fare with Demme’s brilliance as a director, avoiding in-your-face camerawork and revealing the brilliance of Young through his lyrics. Lian Lunson’s Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man is stuffed with performances from Cohen admirers including Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Nick Cave and Bono, and in interview footage, Cohen reveals that he can agonise for up to a year on whether he has got his lyrics right. And Marky Ramone will host a q+a following the screening of Mandy Stein’s doc, Too Tough to Die: A Tribute to Johnny Ramone, which features thoughts and performances from his friends including Deborah Harry, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Dickies, X, and Eddie Vedder.
For filmmakers, there’s the Raindance regular Live! Ammunition event where quivering directors-in-waiting get the opportunity to pitch their hot script to top film execs; the HDFest panel will bring you up to date on the latest High Definition technologies and special effects; and the Page 3: Bollywood Explosion panel celebrates 75 years of bolly filmmaking with director Madhur Bhandarkar and producer Shailendra Singh on how it is changing international cinema.
Over the next two weeks, 80 feature films and 150 short films (including animation, documentary and experimental strands) will be throwing the mental chains of formulaic ideas out of the window to show you the best in indie filmmaking. Is there a cult classic lurking amongst them? Guaranteed.
Festival line-up: www.raindance.co.uk
To book tix: