Being a British festival, Raindance has always boasted a strong homegrown contingent. One of the festival highlights is bound to be Evil Aliens, (Sat 8 Oct) which follows a disreputable news unit as they investigate a bizarre story of alien abduction on an isolated Welsh island. Jake West’s horror/sci-fi send-up looks set to harvest the same success as last year’s zombie comedy Shaun Of The Dead. Also screening on this day is Julian Gilbey’s highly anticipated British gangsta flick Rollin’ With The Nines - an urban thriller with the kind of eclectic cast that you’ll only find in an independent film. Starring Vas Blackwood, Naomi Taylor and Robbie Gee, it also pitches EastEnders star Billy Murray alongside British actor Jason Flemyng, Simon Webb of the boy band Blue, and renowned rapper Dizzee Rascal.
On Friday 30 September, we have two very different films. Firstly, a British black comedy - Saul Metzsein’s Guy X, starring Jason Biggs as a soldier mistakenly posted to an isolated army base in Greenland, where he falls for the commanding officer’s girlfriend played by Natascha McElhone. Secondly, a British film that is bound to spark impassioned debate is Thomas Clay’s controversial The Great Ecstasy Of Robert Carmichael. It caused a furor when it was screened at Cannes this year, and its notoriously shocking closing moments will no doubt touch a nerve at Raindance too.
More Raindancing after the jump.
Another Cannes controversy that’s screening at Raindance is Mexican director Carlos Reygades’ Battle In Heaven (Sat 8 Oct). Beginning and ending with a graphic sex scene, the film between these two explicit scenes tells the story of a chauffeur who’s haunted by the fact that he and his wife once kidnapped a baby for ransom with tragic consequences.
Similarly brutal kidnappings are a current Latin American crime phenomenon. And as the latest trend in Latin American cinema is for filmmakers to accurately portray their culture on screen, 26-year old Venezuelan writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz grapples with this terrifying subject in Secuestro Express. After a night prowling the clubs of Caracas, an affluent young couple are seized by an armed trio, and a $20,000 ransom is demanded within two hours. This tense and gritty thriller was shot on DV with a cast largely made of non-professional actors – and the result is a powerful and unnerving piece of cinema. Raindance is very pleased to announce that this is a European premiere and will be the festivals closing night film on Sunday 9 October. Jonathan Jakubowicz will also host a director masterclass the day before.
Neill Dela Llana and Ian Gamazon have taken a similar path with their low-budget feature, Cavite (Sun 2 Oct). Our protagonist returns home to the Philippines, where he’s forced to desperately follow the instructions of a man claiming to have abducted his family. A similar combination of hand-held camera and minimal cast again have produced an intimate and discomforting film that feels as raw and as vivid as real life.
Meanwhile, Antonio Campos’ Buy It Now (Fri 30 Sept) tackles a North American phenomenon, whilst adding a controversial twist: a 16-year-old, surrounded by a society obsessed with consumerism, decides to auction her virginity on eBay. Another high-profile American indie screening at Raindance is Stuart Gordon’s black comedy, Edmond (Thurs 6 Oct). Adapted by David Mamet from his stage play, it follows a bland, bored businessman (William H Macy) as he’s sent lurching into New York’s nocturnal underworld of wild sex and bloody murder, encountering the likes of Julia Stiles, Mena Suvari and Denise Richards. Switching the scene to Hollywood, Scott Coffey’s comedy Ellie Parker (Sun 2 Oct) follows said young woman (Naomi Watts) along a less dark but equally daunting path as she struggles to achieve her dream acting career in this original and true to life tale. An enthralling drama, 36 Quai Des Orfevres (Sat 1 Oct) was France's biggest box office hit of 2004 and stars Gerard Dépardieu and Daniel Auteuil as two police officers, formerly friends but now mortal enemies.
Coupled with the likes of NightWatch and Dumplings that's quite a line up and did we mention how excited we are that Midnight Eye's Jasper Sharp programmed the Japanese section this year?
Some of the titles to look out for include LITTLE WING, Go Shibata's disturbing LATE BLOOMER, Mitsuru Meike's anarchic pink knockabout THE GLAMOUROUS LIFE OF SACHIKO HANAI, Yutaka Tsuchiya's acerbic PEEP "TV" SHOW, the haunting doll animations of Kihachiro Kawamoto, and a focus on the Aum gas attacks of 1995 with Tetsuya Mori's spellbinding documentary A and Akihito Shiota's brilliant CANARY.