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Raindancing with the Best of Independent Cinema
by Vesa Kuosmanen
2008-10-17 09:31:43
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The sold out screenings of the 16th Raindance Film Festival in London proved that low-to-no budget filmmaking is well, and more entertaining and thrilling than ever. Raindance, like (and unlike) its more famous U.S. equivalent Sundance, is not a festival for big blockbusters and Hollywood stars, but for independent filmmakers who have fought hard to get their films made. This commitment of the filmmakers to their films can be seen on the screens and in the atmosphere of the festival.

Whereas Raindance lacks the glamour and stars of the upcoming B.F.I. London Film Festival, it feels more accessible and personal. Here you can actually meet the filmmakers and have a chat, the filmmakers who really care about their films. Where else can you see the director/producer team walking around the local venues putting up their posters and telling people about their loved little film, the film that might start its success here, other than in Raindance?

Raindance does not quite have the effect of Sundance to make stars, there are no new El Mariachi's, Juno's or Little Miss Sunshine's born here, but many quality British or international features gain attention and distribution, which otherwise wouldn’t happen. As the independent filmmakers from all over the world gather here, there are a few distributors and sales agents around as well, looking for that next gem.

This year, in my opinion and backed up by the jury’s best debut feature award, the next big indie film might come from Toronto, Canada. The outrageously hilarious Production Office is as funny as cinema gets. The wonderful lead woman, Shauna MacDonald, doesn’t spare the F-word, but her performances made the audience piss themselves - rarely, if ever, have I seen the whole cinema captivated by one actor, who is pretty much in every frame of the film.

The closing night film, Hush, is easy to be seen as the next London to Brighton, a gritty low budget British thriller, but an extremely good one. ‘The most intensive film of the year’, might be the tagline if this was a big studio film, but in this case it would be totally true. The director Mark Tonderai has created a story, where you don’t want to take your eyes off the screen for a second, not even to find that last candy in the bag. Never before have I been in cinema where the whole audience applauds while the film is still on.

All in all, it can be seen that the tax break and digital shooting formats have truly helped the independent filmmakers to get their visions on screen. Naturally among the hundreds of the films shown during the 11 day Raindance film festival, there were some not so great films, to put it in a nice way, but maybe that’s what’s so great about it; one never knows what one will get. In addition, you get films that dare to deal with the subject matters that never make it in big budget blockbusters.

Gardens of the Night, a beautifully-made film, delves into the world of child abduction in a highly realistic way. Independent cinema has an important role to make the audience think about the difficult subject matters, which are not politically correct enough for the big studios to tackle them.

Sadly many, maybe most of the film screened in the Raindance may never get distribution, or only a small one. That is why this festival is truly important; giving the independent filmmakers a voice, showing that there is audience wanting more indie cinema. The filmmakers there might look scruffy and poor, probably because they spent their last pennies to make the film, but they have important things to say and many beautiful stories to tell.

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Sippy2008-10-27 19:03:26
I totally agree or disagree as i have not seen all of the fest and was only able to see a couple with my friend who's a filmmaker himself any way i think there should be more of these festivals. nicely written!?!!!@

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