Diversity is one of the major selling points for attending a film festival. Take away though, all the films that focus on dysfunctional families, awkward romances and the tranquillity of youth and the line-up of even major film festivals becomes significantly slimmer. Raindance Film Festival is an exciting exception. Ever since 1992, Raindance has been one of the most zealous and prominent supporters of genuinely independent cinema from all over the world and now in its 20th year it promises to showcase- in addition to all the special events and distinguished guest- once again an eclectic selection of truly original and ferociously adventurous films.
Opening this year’s festival, the Mexican horror film, Here Comes the Devil is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it never succumbs to easy scare tactics, by building a mysterious and unsettling atmosphere in the vein of Nicolas Roeg’s classic Don’t Look Now. But the appearance of the cult music group The Real Tuesday Weld at the opening night after-party will help you leave all bad thoughts behind with their cabaret style music that recalls the wonderfully romantic oeuvre of Cole Porter.
The rest of the festival’s programme is filled with films with uber cool premises. String Caesar places legendary Shakespearean actor Derek Jacobi alongside real life prisoners in a modern retelling of the Bard’s Julius Caesar. In an equally daring venture, the renowned minimalist composer Michael Nyman attempts to make an updated version of Dziga Vertov’s revolutionary documentary Man with a Movie Camera. The selection of documentaries in this year’s festival is especially strong, with Me@ the Zoo offering an intriguing look in the endlessly self-recorded life of transgendered man Chris Crocker, and Zero Killed giving us a rare view of the darkest corners of the human mind as director Michal Kosakowski asks people from various backgrounds about their murder fantasies and then gives them the chance to stage them as short films.
Add to the mix a list of international shorts with A-list stars such as Charlotte Rampling, Jenifer Lopez, Malcolm McDowell and Phil Jupitus and retrospectives that celebrate the genius of the French avant guardist Chris Maker (whose short film La Jetée became the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys) and the eccentric work of Trent Harris, best known for Plan 10 From Outer Space, a low- budget sensation with the unbeatable combo of aliens and Mormons and you will understand what a diverse film festival experience feels like. (Words: Apostolos Kostoulas)
The 20th Riverside Film Festival takes place from 26 September-7 October at the West End’s Apollo Cinema. For further information visit www.raindance.co.uk