With 97% of its sponsorship lost due to the economic meltdown, the 17th Raindance Festival nearly didn't happen. If this had have been the case, then London's appetite for cutting edge film making would have been left severely unsatisfied. Triumphing over adversity, Raindance flooded the capital with the full force of a monsoon with three participating venues rammed to the rafters and box office returns way over even last year's record-breaking year.
Their dedication in supporting independent film makers and recognition of the lack of funding available gives this festival a heart and soul and a spirit of generosity and openness not often experienced with these kinds of events. This doesn't always work in their favour, though. The controversy over the screening of House of Numbers, which deals with HIV/AIDS, earned them over 100 hate tweets and threats to all the sponsors, purportedly by people who hadn't seen the film. Raindance founder, Elliot Groves' stance was that the documentary covered some interesting points worthy of debate and, not bowing down to pressure, promptly screened it a second time. The film's director, Brent W Leung, presents a well put together documentary which could easily lead you down the AIDS denialist route if you didn't know any better which, let's face it, many don't.
Gordon Mason's They call it Acid on the other hand, throws up no such ambiguity. Taking us on a rampage through the acid house explosion of the late 80's, this feature length documentary is a fascinating and informative journey, not only through the evolution of the music and culture but of how our civil liberties and right to party were ultimately compromised by the establishment. Great to hear Evil Eddie Richards, one of the UK's foremost House pioneers and compiler of the films seminal soundtrack, bangin' them out at the after party.
With over 120 films, screened on a total of 22 different formats, ambient café space, seminars and a whole lot of partying and networking, Raindance week has more than established itself as a vibrant fixture on London's cultural calendar.