Anyone with an iota of interest in indie film, or indeed mainstream film, knows Raindance, if not as an organisation that has championed independent filmmaking for close to 20 years, then most definitely for its annual film festival. The Raindance Festival, this year held October 1-12, is widely accepted as the most important event for independent filmmaking in the UK.
Now in its 16th year, the festival has quite a reputation to uphold. We asked festival producer Jesse Vile how they manage to keep things interesting: ‘We’re not tied to any government funding so we have free rein to do what we want. Nothing is ever too out there for us. We’re looking for balls, originality and something that shakes things up. The programming does evolve through the films we receive so when you look back on it, each year has an energy and style of its own’.
Over the years independent filmmaking has seen a shift in trends, and this has been reflected in both UK and international entries to the festival. ‘There has been an enormous increase in documentary film production over the last five years, and each year we get more and more sent to us’, explains Vile. ‘For a while everyone wanted to be Quentin Tarantino but now it seems they all want to be Morgan Spurlock’. Whatever genre they choose to work in, however, the most important thing would-be filmmakers should remember is to make a film with what is available. In an interview on Raindance TV, Shane Meadows reminds them that he started his career thanks to video. For Vile, this is simply what independent filmmaking is all about: ‘You’re not going to make The Godfather on a cheap camcorder but you can create something amazing that all the money and 35mm film in the world couldn’t create’.
Raindance has helped launch the careers of the likes of Guy Ritchie, Matthew Vaughn, Christopher Nolan, and Paul Brooks – all of whom were Raindance workshop participants back in 1992. Since helping these talents to emerge, the festival has not changed its core values and continues to expose and assist more filmmakers each year. For Vile, it is that aspect of the festival that makes it so vital: ‘We’re not just a festival that screens independent films, but we’re an independent organisation, so we know all about the struggles of getting things done on a limited budget. We maintain personal relationships with a lot of the filmmakers that come through our festival and continue for years to help them out in any way we can. I don’t know other festivals that do that to the extent that we do’.
The Raindance programme has now been announced and can be explored here. With screen legend Faye Dunaway as a special guest and a jury that includes Nicolas Roeg and Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, it should be another top indie feast.
BLACKSPOT (New Zealand)
Two young men face darkness of an unexpected kind when their car breaks down on an isolated road during a night trip.
THE DAISY CHAIN (UK)
After the death of their baby daughter, a young couple foster a strange little girl who has lost her entire family. With Samantha Morton in the role of the grieving mother.
A LIFE IN THE DEATH OF JOE MEEK (USA)
Documentary that chronicles the rise, fall and resurrection of Joe Meek, Britain’s first independent pop record producer.
Peter Greenaway’s extravagant look at Rembrandt’s romantic and professional life and the controversy he created by the identification of a murderer in the painting The Night Watch.
A bizarre act of terrorism leaves a woman fitted with a plastic collar filled with explosives by a criminal gang who will detonate it if her family don’t pay a ransom. Shot in one continuous 84 minute steadicam take, PVC-1 is a groundbreaking thriller that has won numerous festival awards.
THE RIND (Uruguay)
Working in an advertising agency, slacker Pedro finds himself hastily promoted when his talented partner dies abruptly. Under pressure to put forward ideas, he investigates his dead colleague’s life in a desperate search for inspiration.
SEVEN SIGNS (USA)
Colonel JD Wilkes (the charismatic frontman and songwriter of the Legendary Shack Shakers) sets off to prove that the older stranger South still exists in all of its eerie, time-worn and Gothic glory.