Hey look, everybody. It’s been 23 years of Raindance film festival and it’s easy to forget how many terrific films we have screened over the years. Here’s a fond look back at some of the hidden gems we have screened.
I’ve omitted The Blair Witch Project, Memento and Ghost World – they’ve already had enough publicity! This list is in no particular order, just the order that I can remember them without checking the website!
1994 Alfred Packer, The Musical AKA Cannibal the Musical
The second year’s closing party was a humble affair with fewer than 30 people at a cash bar in Leicester Square. We’d just seen this movie and were still laughing and the creators Matt Stone, Trey Parker and Jason McHugh were with us laughing and drinking too. We all knew they were going to be great, we just didn’t know when. Also at that 2nd festival party were Elisar Cabrera, Jamie Greco and producer Matt Devlen – three people I still work with.
2001 Visitor Q dir by Takashi Miike
One day a box with 8 VHS films from Japan arrived unannounced featuring movies made dirt cheap, Raindance style and labelled “Love cinema”. We screened this terrific though totally uncomfortable film by Takashi Miike and with it no doubt unleashed his genius to Europe and beyond.
2000 The Audition dir by Takashi Miike
Another Miike film, years later. Without a doubt about the most fucked up movie I have ever seen. This film was screened by the kind permission of Metro Tartan, the UK distributors, sadly now gone.
2003 Old Boy dir by Chan-wook Park
Don’t confuse this brilliant film with the 2013 remake version directed by Spike Lee. This film had it all for me: suspense, humour, horrific torture and a plot that at times made you think you were watching a new wave erotic french film.
1993 Love and Human Remains dir by Denys Arcand
Denys Arcand hit a home run with ^l, and this was his much heralded english language debut. This screened to two sold out audiences in 1993. I remember standing at the exit of the screening room at the now-defunct Planet Hollywood in Leicester Square and watching people wiping the tears from their eyes. It was picked up by Sony Classics at the screening.
2001 Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter dir by Lee DeMarbre
Probably the silliest and funnest movie ever made – but still with a story. Ottawa based filmmaker Lee DeMarbre basically got some friends together and ran riot with this ultra low budget comedy made for a pittance. Lee ended up taking this film on the road and in many ways pioneered the art of self distribution.
1997 Mary Jane is Not A Virgin Anymore dir by Sarah Jacobsen
This was probably one of the first video screenings ever. Written, directed and produced by the self annointed “Queen of Underground Film”, Sarah Jacobson. A pre-cursor of the so-called mumblecore, Sarah used her Super8 camera to explore sexuality. Sarah died at 32 of an illness. The Sarah Jacobson Film Grant was set up and annually awards grants to young female directors.
1996 Pusher dir by Nicholas Winding Refn
When Nicholas Winding Refn showed up at Raindance with this Danish crime thriller he was totally unknown outside Copenhagen. Now he’s an international star, and is rseponsible for some of cinemas most notable movies: Drive. He’s also been a member of the Cannes Film Festival jury. Nicholas brought Kim Bodnia with him for the International Premiere at Raindance.
2000 Chuck & Buck dir by Miguel Arteta
Mike White is an unusual combination of writer, producer and actor. On Chuck & Buck: “The original nugget came from a scene early in the film where my character Buck grabs Chuck’s balls. I thought it would be a real uncomfortable thing to start a movie off with a scene of a guy grabbing another guy’s dick. Totally unrepentantly. Not like in your typical Dumb-and-Dumber-type comedy or an earnest gay movie. From that idea I started to ask myself, “What situation would lead to this?”. This movie had audiences weeping with laughter at Raindance.
2014 I Origins dir by Mike Cahill
Who could forget Mike Cahill’s intelligent and emotionally intense examination on atheism, romance, grief and re-incarnation? Brilliant performances by William Pitt and Brit Marling, this was Mike’s second Raindance appearance after 2011’s Another Earth. The best and most underrated movie of 2014.
2007 ONCE dir by John Carney
This low budget musical ended up winning an Oscar for the song “Falling Slowly”. Festival juror Mick Jones of The Clash remarked that he couldn’t get the song out of his head when I saw him in Soho a fortnight after the Raindance screening. Stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova did an awesome Q&A and sang 5 songs after the movie using just the Q&A audience mic. Still shivering with the memory.
I realise this is 11 movies. If I could go on I’d add 2012’s How do You Write A Joe Sherman Song, written and directed by Gary King – the achingly romantic musical from Brooklyn, and … the list could easily grow to a hundred.
With over 2,000 features and 4,000 shorts it’s hard to remember every single film we’ve played at Raindance. All I know is that it took a few seconds to compile this list.
This is where you come in: Watch these movies. Laud their creators.
Have you seen a really great film at Raindance? Stick it into the comments box below. Hope to see you and/or your film at Raindance really soon. Our Raindance Film Festival submissions are open!