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netribution > features > Raindance Film Festival

I was looking forward to meeting Elliot Grove the founder of the Raindance Film Festival. I had lots of questions about the festival and filmmaking. I felt he was a man with the answers.

Raindance is the biggest festival of independent filmmaking in Britain and it begins on Wednesday 17 October 2001 and runs through until 26 October. I was due to meet Elliot Grove and all the people behind this year’s festival, it is their ninth year but my first in covering it for Netribution. So, I was keen to be on the ball, pencil sharpened and ready to give all my readers a chance to get the inside track for this year’s festival.

However, due to a series of mishaps, miscalculations and through plain incompetence I found myself at the wrong end of Soho at the entrance to the wrong building, at the wrong building asking the wrong questions.

| by melvyn dresner |
| photos courtesy of raindance |
| in london |

I could have asked Elliot Grove how he managed to spot films such as Pulp Fiction, the Blair Watch Project and Memento, which all got their London premieres at previous Raindance Festivals, before everyone else. I also could have asked about this year’s London Premieres of Ghost World (starring Steve Buscemi and Thora Birch) and Trouble Every Day (directed by Claire Denis, a controversial French film about sex and cannibalism. Now I am going to have to go to festival to find out who are the filmmakers of the future.

The festival includes over 220 short films. If you cannot at least find one that you like then you are just not trying. Documentaries such as The Last Pub, tells the story of an endangered British institution in south London, the humble pub, its landlord, and its punters, and Ken and Rosa, the real story behind Ken Loach’s film, Bread and Roses, intrigue me. Have a look at their web site, there are more than I could ever mention.

Features such as Blood Junkies, or the Boot Factory, which is about beer, Polish punk and, well, boot making, or the most disappointing story ever told Born To Lose — the Last Rock and Roll Movie, make a change from your average multiplex fare. There are so many features and shorts it's hard to choose. Those after the obscure, interesting and simply weird should have a field day.

As well as the main festival, there is Raindance East and Raindance Kids. Having staggered around Soho in pursuit of Raindance, I finally discovered their offices at 81 Berwick Street more due to luck than judgement (I asked a man at a glass fronted office opposite, who displayed a poster advertising this year’s festival) I was late, but luckily Shehani Fernando was there to tell me all about Raindance East, which provides a sample of the best of Asian cinema. It sounds like a visit to Mile End could be worth well the effort. If I can manage the trip, that is.

Raindance East is based at the Genesis Cinema in Mile End. Features include the London Premiere of Il Mare, a tale of love and time travel, and the world premiere of A Quiet Desperation, a story of death and dark secrets in Southall and Asoka, featuring Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan.

Learn everything you need to know about Bollywood, and discover that with bigger budgets stories are becoming more complex and filmmakers more ambition in the Bombay film industry; though they still love to sing and dance. Shekhar Kapur (Bandit Queen, Elizabeth) talks to Derek Malcolm at the Metro Cinema, Rupert Street, followed by a screening of the Bandit Queen.

Raindance Kids at the Clapham Picture House, is where seven to sixteen years olds get to make their own short film, documentary or animation as well as see the best in big screen entertainment made by and for them. So kids, get down to Clapham. How about making a movie this half term? That sounds fun to me.

As an aspiring screenwriter, I was hoping to ask the secrets behind the hot script. Elliot Grove has taught Writer/ Directors such as Justin Kerrigan (Human Traffic) and Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). I am now going to have to join one of his courses to find out. These are run from his office in Berwick Street.

The festival itself includes plenty of opportunities for film lovers to find out how movies are made. British Film Director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas, Internal Affairs) gives a master class in digital storytelling, or you can try your hand at pitching (2 minutes to sell you screenplay) if you’ve got a fiver to risk you get the pot, (June’s winner sold his screenplay to a production company). You can also meet and question new and upcoming filmmakers. To learn more visit their web site or even better, visit the festival. Don’t be late and miss it!

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