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[Article] – Ten To See At Raindance Film Festival 2017

 

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Posted September 24, 2017 by

 
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The 25th Raindance Film Festival (Vue Leicester Square) kicked off with a splash on 20 September with the UK premiere of Oh Lucy, fresh from its screening at the Toronto Film Festival. There is much to enjoy between now and 1 October, when the festival closes with Stuck, Michael Berry’s modern musical about six complete strangers stuck in a New York subway carriage, starring Giancarlo Esposito (Do The Right Thing), Amy Madigan (Places in the Heart) and the Grammy Award-winning singer Ashanti.

The programme offers a diverse selection of features and shorts, fiction and documentaries, web series and virtual reality experiences, the latter making it unique among London-based film festivals. It is impossible to single out every film or short in the festival. However, here’s ten to whet your cinematic appetite.

The Public Image is Rotten

Documentary. Director: Tabbert Fiiller. Screening Dates: 30 Sep, 1 Oct

John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten remains a divisive figure in music history. The lead singer of the Sex Pistols, the punk band that took a big stick to Britain in the late 1970s, he went on to form Public Image Limited and appear in Country Life butter ads in 2008. (‘All comments that don’t call him a sell-out will be removed,’ reads one You Tube posting.) When you define yourself as a sneering bad boy, it is difficult to present yourself as a real person rather than as an anachronism. Expect the film to answer some of your questions, and don’t miss the chance to quiz Lydon himself who will be lobbing verbal grenades with the documentary’s director Tabbert Fiiller at the 30 September screening. Do ask him about working with Harvey Keitel on the 1983 film, Order of Death, as well.

Trendy

Feature. Director: Louis Lagayette. Screening Dates: 25 and 28 Sep

If you thought of moving to the East End of London, home to happening Hoxton or desirable Dalston (I’m stretching it), director Louis Lagayette’s debut feature about a teacher (Lachlan Nieboer) who falls foul of East End market forces (Alan Ford provides heavy support) will make you reconsider. Expect the film to debate the question whether bad neighbourhoods make people do bad things or whether one can be honest, decent and true when everyone else is nose-deep in coke and criminality. The 28 September screening will feature a question and answer session with the director and cast.

Web Fest: The New Series

Web Series. Various. Screening: 30 Sep

The next big thing on TV might already be available on the worldwide web. I’m not talking about those leaked episodes of Game of Thrones, rather a selection of web series of various lengths that experiment with content perfect for tube viewing on the Piccadilly line – why anyone would watch a 52 minute TV show on a 20 minute journey is amazing to me. The programme includes five one minute editions of Millennial Theory, in which two lifestyle gurus in plastic sunglasses give advice on how to be authentic and true, as well as episodes from Mixed Messages about a London lesbian negotiating the Berlin queer scene in a tee-shirt too rude for me to quote, and a game show series for couples entitled Show Us Ur Phone, in which couples are quizzed about the contents of each other’s mobile devices. I don’t know when the word ‘mobile’ got conflated with ‘portable’; if it is mobile it has to be able to move by itself, although I often think my Sony Ericsson does exactly that when I can’t find it.

Amerika Square

Feature. Director: Yannis Sakaridis. Screening Dates: 26 and 28 Sep

I can’t imagine it is much fun living in Greece. In hoc to the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and Germany (amongst others) for hundreds of billions of Euro, the country also hosts over 46,000 (documented) refugees, though it is far from being in the top ten countries bearing the brunt of the current war and famine-fuelled crisis. The drama Amerika Square shines a light on Athens’ Plateia Amerikis in which racists and refugees live side by side in an atmosphere of boiling tension, as attempts to build lives are frustrated. The plot defines the term ‘vital storytelling’ but more than that the film is testimony to the vitality of the Greek film industry in a country that refuses to be defined by its financial straightjacket.

Transmania

Feature. Directors: various. Screening Dates: 22 and 27 Sep

You’ve seen portmanteau films before, right? This one, consisting of 15 five-minute segments each from a different director is different. Here, the multiple Croatian directors including Dalibor Matanic, Tanja Golic and Ivan Sikavica had to continue the story after only seeing the last minute of their predecessor’s segment. This blends the structure of a web series with a feature film. The trailer offers a frantic night time drive, sex, violence and masks, not to mention knife sharpening. I’m intrigued, if only to discover whether it works as a unified whole. For a point of comparison, listen to the radio series, Chain Gang.

Cahier Africain

Documentary. Director: Heidi Specogna. Screening Dates: 22 and 27 Sep

The UK doesn’t have a presence or much of a voice in the Central African Republic, home to an ongoing civil war lasting from 2012 to date. Heidi Specogna’s documentary focuses on an earlier conflict in 2008 and the testimony collected for presentation to the European Court of Human Rights that sadly never reached its target. Whilst the violence committed by mercenaries is graphically described, the film pays tribute to the enduring spirit of those who suffered. The British poet and author Salena Godden, who contributed to the film, will participate in a question and answer session on 27 September.

A Trip to the Moon

Feature. Director: Joaquin Cambre. Screening Dates: 24 and 26 Sep

Latin American films rarely make it to London cinemas, so it is always a pleasure to catch up with the latest output from the continent. A Trip to the Moon, which shares its title with a 1902 George Melies movie, is a coming of age drama from director Joaquin Cambre about a luna obsessed teenager, Tomas (Ángelo Mutti Spinetta) who turns his telescope on a girl. Cambre’s film mixes teenage angst (and antipsychotic drugs) with magic realism as Tomas plans a real journey to the satellite of his obsession.

Barrage

Feature. Director: Laura Schroeder. Screening Dates: 25 and 28 Sep

Luxembourg’s entry as Best Foreign Language Film to the 2018 Academy Awards pairs real-life mother and daughter Isabelle Huppert and Lolita Chammah in a cross-generational drama about a free-spirited substance abuser (Chammah) who returns to chez maman (Huppert) to reconnect with her well-brought-up teenage daughter (Themis Pauwels). There is more of Chammah and Pauwels than Huppert but Barrage was a minor hit in its native country where films from local filmmakers don’t exactly arrive like buses.

Siblings (Hermanos)

Documentary. Director: Laura Plancarte. Screening Dates: 25 and 27 Sep

Director Laura Plancarte’s documentary focuses on the lives of Vanessa, an American single mother trying to recover the house lost in the 2008 financial crisis and Chuy and Chato, two brothers who live in Mexico who want to return to the United States after being deported for life. A hot button topic, Plancarte’s film takes viewers of an emotional journey where each of the subjects makes some uncomfortable discoveries. The director will be present on 25 September for a Question and Answer session.

Virtual Reality Arcade

Various. Screening Dates: 29 and 30 Sep

From 29 to 30 September, the Hospital Club offers viewers a chance to experience virtual reality storytelling. The ticket price for each programme is high (£28) only because of the single viewer headsets provided but the programme offers a wide range of immersive experiences from interactive dramas like Manifest 99 to the documentary First Impressions, in which you share a baby’s simulated point of view.

For the full programme, visit: http://calendar.raindancefestival.org/

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Larry Oliver
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