BIFA 2019 Raindance Discovery Award Longlist Unveiled - Raindance

Britain’s biggest independent film festival, Raindance is recognised as a place to discover the work of passionate and pioneering new filmmakers: those whose vision isn’t restricted by budget, and whose determination to tell compelling stories never wavers. It’s therefore fitting that Raindance should put its name to the Raindance Discovery Award at the annual British Independent Film Awards (BIFA). This vanguard award honours British films that break convention, and whose directors demonstrate the ingenuity and adaptability required when working with a maximum budget of £500,000.

Previous recipients include Ben Wheatley, receiving an early accolade for his bold first feature Down Terrace. The Raindance Discovery Award was most recently presented to May Miles Thomas for the haunting and extraordinary Voyageuse.

This year, we’re proud to present the long-list for the Raindance Discovery Award, which comprises 16 remarkably varied films that are altogether unified in their vision to tell relevant and uncompromising stories.

In sponsoring this award, we aim to give a voice to these stories, and to defeat the silence of life on the margins.

“I and all at Raindance are thrilled to shine a spotlight on this impressive list of bold, fresh and innovative work. This attention we believe will enable new voices to be discovered,” says Elliot Grove, founder of Raindance and BIFA.

The five nominees for the award will be announced along with teh rest of this year’s BIFA nominations on Wednesday 30 October. Watch the announcement live at

The long-listed films are:


Nominee: Shelly Love (Director)

A Bump Along the Way is a female-led, feel good, comedy drama set in Derry, Northern Ireland, about a middle-aged woman whose unexpected pregnancy after a one-night stand acts as the catalyst for her to finally take control of her life and become the role model her teenage daughter needs and craves. 


Nominee: Mark Jenkin (Director)

Martin Ward is a cove fisherman, without a boat. His brother Steven has re-purposed their father’s vessel as a tourist tripper, driving a wedge between the brothers. With their childhood home now a get-away for London money, Martin is displaced to the estate above the picturesque harbour. As his struggle to restore the family to their traditional place creates increasing friction with tourists and locals alike, a tragedy at the heart of the family changes his world. Bait is a feature film shot on 16mm B&W Kodak film and processed by hand. Captured in Cornwall, it tells a stark story rooted in local culture and community, and how these marginal places are facing up to a changing world. From writer/director Mark Jenkin and Early Day Films, Bait is a hand-crafted monochrome expression of a life under threat.


Nominees: Zara Balfour and Marcus Stephenson (Directors/Producers), Mark Hakansson (Camera Operator)

Children of the Snow Land tells the story of a group of children born in the High Himalayas of Nepal – a remote area of great natural beauty but where life is extremely tough. From just four years old, some children are sent by their parents to the capital city, Kathmandu, to a school run by a Buddhist monk in the hope that education will give them a better chance in life. For ten years or more they do not see or speak to their parents due to the remoteness of their villages. Now, upon graduation aged 16, these children are making the trek home: an arduous and lengthy journey across mountains that takes them to the highest inhabited place on the planet; a faraway, off-grid land where the way of life has not changed for thousands of years, and where their parents are waiting to see children brought up in a world of mobile phones, social media and most modern conveniences. And then the earthquake strikes.


Nominee: Graham Hughes (Director/Writer)

Combining found footage, archive materials, talking head interviews, and ripped youtube videos, Death of a Vlogger is a mockumentary horror that explores the dark side of the internet. When ambitious vlogger, Graham, accidentally records an alleged ghost in his latest video, it sends him on a journey to explore the haunting, and document his findings online.


Nominee: Dolly Wells (Director)

After breaking up with her boyfriend, Lilian (Grace Van Patten) moves in with married couple Julia (Emily Mortimer) and Don (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) only to overhear them arguing in the night. The front door slams as Don moves out, and the following days sees Lilian, selfish and irresponsible, having to earn her keep by cooking for Julia, a reclusive, distrustful writer who rarely emerges from her room. Though communicating largely through notes, the odd couple gradually forge a bond and help one another to negotiate the foibles, phobias and obstacles that have long hindered their happiness…


Nominees: Jaime Taylor and Edward Owles (Directors)

What does it take to change a child’s life? H is for Harry is a coming of age story about Harry, a charismatic 11-year old boy, who arrives at secondary school in suburban London unable to read or write. With the help of Sophie, his extremely dedicated teacher, can he overcome the illiteracy ingrained across generations of his family? Against the backdrop of a Britain riven with debates around class, identity and social mobility, the film follows Harry over two years as he fights not only to improve academically but also to believe in a different future for himself.


Nominees: Andra Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson (Directors/Writers), James Lingwood, Michael Morris and Cressida Day (Executive Produces). 

Here for Life follows the experiences of ten individuals living in London, whose lives have been shaped by loss and love, trauma and bravery, struggle and resistance. They dance together, steal together, eat together; agree and disagree, celebrate their differences and share their talents, grappling with a system that seems stacked against them. Their stories and performances become woven together, blurring the lines between fact and fiction through a series of intimate confessions, staged performances and journeys through London.


Nominees: Tomos Roberts and Nassim Mniai (Producers)

Hilda is a gritty British drama set in modern-day London. Nearing her final year of school, Hilda must contend with the abandonment of her parents and the dependency of young siblings. With fiery determination locked behind a deadpan stoicism, Hilda depends on dance to keep the enclosing chaos at bay. Hilda had its World Premiere at Raindance Film Festival 2019.


Nominee: Sasha Collington (Director)

How can someone love you yesterday and not today? Shortly after her boyfriend sends his 12-year-old brother (Wilbur) to break the news that she’s dumped, Frankie Browne (27) discovers that she has a loser in love gene. Every man she goes out with will inevitably break up with her. And Frankie is not alone. It is estimated by scientists that one in five people have the gene for romantic misfortune. Facing a lifetime of romantic failure, Frankie turns to the only genetics expert she knows: her former nemesis, Wilbur, a schoolboy science prodigy. Wilbur develops a maverick theory to reverse her romantic fortunes, based on his work studying the DNA of hamsters.


Nominees: Georgia Parris (Director) and Emma Duffy (Producer)

Professional dancer and choreographer Charlotte (Bobbi Jene Smith) is preparing for a new show. Everything is going well, until she receives a call: Mari, her grandmother, is dying. Putting her life in London temporarily on hold, Charlotte leaves to support her mother and sister, despite the tensions that linger over the family’s strained relationships. Featuring sequences choreographed by Maxine Doyle, and an evocative score by Peter Gregson, Georgia Parris’ genre-defying dance-drama is a love letter to mother-daughter relationships and the difficult choices we make to preserve them.


Nominee: Matt Roberts (Director)

In the fraught lead up to Emmy and Samantha’s wedding, Josh (Emmy’s brother) finds himself dumped and homeless and sleeping on his best mate Niall’s floor. As Niall tries to coax Josh out of his dark place and back into the dating world they both miss the fact that Emmy is having second thoughts about her marriage. As the wedding draws closer Emmy gets more confused, Niall tries to sleep his way out of loneliness and Josh finds solace in an unexpected and destructive place. Masters of Love is an exploration of love and isolation in the technological age, and it was included in the Viva Voce: Stories of Women strand at Raindance Film Festival 2019.


Nominees: Gerard Johnson (Director), Matthew James Wilkinson, Richard Wylie and Ed Barrett (Producers)

Simon isn’t living the life he wants. He’s tired of his dead-end job at a call centre – and he isn’t even any good at it. He and his girlfriend are painfully drifting apart. He’s sick of his pudgy body and his life. It’s time to make a change and hit the gym. His inexperience, timid nature, and soft body stick out in this run-down gym full of Schwarzeneggers.
Immediately, he draws the attention of an intimidating personal trainer named Terry who offers to coach him. Terry’s criminal past, impulse to humiliate, and aggressive style all concern Simon – but he swiftly sees results and finally feels alive.
All too quickly though, Simon’s life spins out of control after his girlfriend leaves him and Terry becomes his boss, friend, and roommate. Simon suddenly finds himself trapped, stuck in a self- destructive spiral, as every aspect of his life now dangerously rests in Terry’s big, tough hands…


Nominee: Tom Cullen (Director/Writer)

Pink Wall is a modern day romance, following the six year relationship of Jenna (Tatiana Maslany) and Leon (Jay Duplass). Intimately told through defining moments along their journey together, the film explores how both friendship and resentments grow as the pressures of adult life confront them


Nominee: Elizabeth Sankey (Director/Writer)

Romantic Comedy is a documentary that goes under the surface of our favourite films, seeking to
better understand the way we view love, relationships and romance. They’re hugely successful and
deeply loved by many, but have often avoided critical analysis. Helped by a diverse chorus of critics,
actors and filmmakers, and with original songs by her band Summer Camp, director Elizabeth Sankey
embarks on a journey of investigation and self-discovery.


Nominee: Zed Nelson (Director)

As the glinting steel and mirror-glass skyscrapers of London’s financial hub edge ever closer, the area surrounding Hoxton Street has been transformed by hyper- gentrification and sky-high property prices.
A traditional East London street less than a mile from the City of London – it has now become the last bastion of the areas disadvantaged – a concentration of the aged, poor and dispossessed. Focusing on one street and its inhabitants over a three-year period, the film charts the toxic collision of gentrification, austerity and the nation’s slide into Brexit.


Nominees: Jamie Patterson (Director/Writer), Finn Bruce (Producer)

Tucked is a raw and tender drama about an ageing 80 year old drag queen who forms an unlikely friendship with a younger queen, both struggling with their own issues of gender identity & mortality. As they discover more about each other, they realise how to truly be themselves. Tucked is a classic British ‘slice of life’ story about love, loss and friendship with a great charm and sense of humour and fantastic performances from Derren Nesbitt and Jordan Stephens.



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