04 September 2016
by Tamara Dumas and Joe Alvarez | Photos by Gabriel Alvarez
The glitter and glam of Film Festivals attracts film lovers, film professionals and cinephiles of all kind. Along with the oldest running in Europe -Venice Film Festival- and the biggest and most glamourous Cannes Film Festival, there is another name that is worth remembering - and attending. The Raindance Film Festival, celebrates its 24th anniversary this year, has done so with style.
But as it approaches its first quarter century, London’s Raindance Film Festival is embracing the chaos ushered in by the rise of new technologies. “You’d think after 24 years it would get easier,” says festival founder Elliot Grove. “But it doesn’t, it just gets different.” Different indeed. This year was the festival’s global reach: the event received more than 8,000 submissions from over 100 countries. “Our programmers were tortured,” Grove says. “From that -many submissions-, how could they pick the 85 shorts, 107 features and documentaries, the Vr projects, the music videos, and the web series pilots? In the early [days] of Raindance, all those years ago, when John Major was still prime minister, we showed absolutely everything, and now we show practically nothing of what is submitted. “I guess the other hallmark of Raindance over the last three or four years is that we do not show any of the local distributors’ films, so our films, including opening and closing night, come from the submissions that we get,” Grove says. “Inexperienced members of the team say, ‘Oh we should call up so-and-so and get a big film,’ but the older programmers say, ‘The opening film will find us’ — as it has this year.”
This year’s opener on Sept. 21, “Problemski Hotel” reflects the festival’s international outlook, being a Belgian film shot in English, Russian, and Arabic.
Grove Says: “It’s a very gritty look at the problems that an immigrant or a refugee from the deep south or the deep east is facing in trying to get themselves to Britain and safer soil. It’s very fitting, with all the Brexit stuff and the immigrant crisis going on, and to do that in a non-linear narrative style, with occasional touches of laugh-out-loud humor, is the reason it was selected.”
It’s an unusual choice, and Grove accepts that there is little rhyme or reason to what constitutes an opening night film for the festival. “Raindance isn’t so much about precedent,” he says. “We’re more about innovation and responding to stuff we see. I know that sounds extremely pompous, but, historically, that has been the goal of the film festival — our remit, from day one, has been all about discovering new talent, the kind of stuff without stars. Which is a great thing, but it’s also a marketing nightmare.”
The gala opening, held at Vue Leicester square, attracted celebs and a lot of press. Ikon London Magazine was joined by Laura Pradelska, Karen Bryson, Karen David, Peter Davison, Elizabeth Heery, Lily Travers, amongst others at the gala evening reception. And after a few glasses of bubbles, the jovial crowd was invited to view the opening films, carefully selected by the jury.
The organisers admitted during the opening speech, the Raindance film festival has attracted 8,000 applications from around the world this year alone and the decision of the film didn't come easy. It was a good choice of films indeed.
The other -short- film at the gala opening was The Nation Holds Its Breath. It's a funny throwback at Ireland's 1990 World Cup quarter final penalty shootout with Romania. Totally hilarious. The Raindance Film Festival is most definitely one of the most important film festivals for Indie films.
Ikon spoke to one of the jury, Maria Ingold, who is also a jury for BAFTAS. Maria shared that Raindance Film Festival was the one she was very much looking forward to. "I think it is very important to support indie films. So when I was approached via Telegraph, I agreed in a heart beat."
Joe Alvarez & Tamara Dumas
Laura Pradelska & Guest
Peter Davison & Elizabeth Heery