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When you are a film buff, filling up all those long, long hours that were suddenly gifted to us all by coronavirus (always look on the bright side of life, right?) is easy. Watch a few films; and then watch some more. What might not be so easy is navigating through all the content that is now available online. Trying to find something worth actually watching.

Let us help. Those that have been to the Raindance Film Festival already know our expert curatorial choices when it comes to the best independent films. Now we want to help you pick your next great movie to watch while stuck at home, with our personal list of indie and arthouse gems. These are films that made an impression on us, Raindance’s programmers. Every other Tuesday there will be a new list with a new film category, genre or theme, to get you through the next couple of weeks.

If you liked, or disliked for that matter, our suggestions, and would like to discuss the choices or get other suggestions on subjects closer to your heart, just email us:

Malaika Bova & Martyna Szmytkowska

The Queer strand has been a part of Raindance for many years. So we have watched with real pleasure as the genre has been able to flourish in recent years, not only in indie cinema but in the mainstream too. For Pride Month we have selected some of the very best Queer films, with each one presenting a different style of storytelling, sensitivity and filmmaking.

Martyna’s recommendations

My favourite LGBTQ+ films are all coming of age stories, of a sort. The protagonists in each film are young people coming to terms with their identity, or trying to. The films share the theme of discovery, and the challenges of understating one’s own identification.

My Summer of Love

Dir. Paweł Pawlikowski, 2004

This recipient of a BAFTA for best British film back in 2004 is one of the earlier works from Paweł Pawlikowski. It’s also one of our first glimpses of Emily Blunt on screen. Mona (Natalie Press), a working class teenager, is bored to death during long summer days when she meets posh and mysterious Tamsin (Blunt). Their instant, and intense friendship soon turns to romance. If the story sounds unoriginal, the fresh performances, script and direction make this film one of a kind.

Available on Amazon Prime 

Moonlight

Dir. Barry Jenkins, 2016

Coming to terms with his identity as an African American gay man is not easy for Chiron, the protagonist of this outstanding drama. Told in three parts, in which we see Chiron at different times of his childhood, adolescence, and as a young man; the film is a tender portrayal of a character grappling with his background and sexuality. It finally brought an underrepresented tale to a mass audience by winning an Oscar for best film.

Available on BFI Player

Available on Amazon Prime 

God’s Own Country

Dir. Francis Lee, 2017

This outstanding British debut received a raft of nominations and awards, including in Berlin, at the BIFAs and BAFTAs. It deserved every single one of them. It tells the story of a young farmer in remote rural England, whose way of relieving the frustration of his bleak existence is drinking and angry sexual encounters with random men. Then, everything changes when a Romanian migrant worker comes into his life.  It is a harsh but very intimate love story.

Available on BFI Player

Available on Amazon Prime

Malaika’s Recommendations

When asked to choose my favourite LGBTQ+ films I have immediately jumped on passionate and refined love dynamics. Films that make love a pure and universal code, above any gender stereotypes. Exploring these films I have realised that what I actually find intriguing about the LGBTQ+ lens is not only they show love under a different light but also politics, families, literature, human identity. In short they are mind opening, forcing the audience to change perspective on reality, offering a different angle to the one-sided truth.

Call Me By Your Name

Dir: Luca Guadagnino 2017

Scripted by James Ivory, this lavish movie feeds the eye as well as the heart. A beautiful Italian countryside is the setting for the coming of age of young and brilliant Elio. The film takes the audience through the emotional ordeal of a budding adolescent and his sensual awakening. It’s close, personal at times breathtaking. In spite of sexual orientation, age or social class the audience feels what Elio feels and I can guarantee living the complex torments of adolescence all over again is quite an experience.

Available on Amazon UK

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Dir: Celine Sciamma 2019

The portrait of a girl who has been promised to a far away man is the trigger for a revolutionary tale of love and, as Sciamma herself defines it, for a manifesto of female gaze. This film is a statement about a change in perspective. For once it is a woman gazing at the world. And through this look each shot has the vivid beauty of a painting, and each emotion, each character, each action is a key to decode a complexity of subject matters from female empowerment, to representation, to passion and love. With Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Sciamma finds a new language full of artistic elegance and sensitivity to describe reality.

Available on Curzon Home Cinema

Pride 

Dir: Matthew Warchus 2014

I wanted to opt for a film that was not about love. I think we dangerously confine LFBTQ films to romance and this can be misleading and not true to the wide spectrum of work available. In this lovely british comedy with a political taste, gay and lesbian activists lend their support to striking miners. A tale of friendship and finding a common ground, a tale about a country and the way it deals with diversity. An easy watch with a stellar cast. 

Available on Amazon Prime UK

Other Raindance Pic(k)s

RomanceFeel-Good Films | Dark Humour | Absurdities

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About 

Raindance’s senior programmer and programme manager, Martyna, has helped with curating the Raindance Film Festival lineup since 2013. In her previous, pre-Raindance life she was a talent agent in one of the leading Polish talent agencies. She has an MA in Film History and Theory.

Malaika has been a Programmer and Programme Manager for Raindance since 2017. Prior to that she worked as a TV producer with ABC News, BBC and Fremantle Media and programmed for five years the Italian Film Festival in London.