Raindance Pic(k)s: Festival Programmers’ Film Suggestions for Lockdown - Romance - Raindance

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

If you are thinking happy endings, mellow smiles, plastic beauties and cliches ‘I love you’ then think again because romance in indie films has its own rules.

1st – They kissed… and then they never lived happily ever after or at least not in the way me, you and most people we know would think of.
2nd – Lots of sex. Romantic, transgressive, fun and always explicit
3rd – Twisted narratives.  Love is never straightforward but one of the most intricate feelings human beings can experience and indie romance are about complexity.
4th – Forget the glitzy and glamorous superheroes. You will emotionally connect with the guy with the biggest nose and a dysfunctional ego, the borderline hot girl with eclectic sexual fantasies, the unfashionable, odd types and in the remote case you’ll scout the fashionable sex icon then they are also old and the mother of your future fiancee.

Below our Tuesday’s recommendations. Enjoy!

Malaika’s Recommendations

For me love is also a means to some wider cause. Romance resonates most when it is capable of enhancing universal messages.
Said that. I confess! my guilty pleasure is Pretty Woman 😉

Sex, Lies and Videotape

Dir. Steven Soderbergh 1989

A small Indie film, by a then first time director, produced by a then less known Miramax studios, won the Cannes Palme D’Or in 1989 and became one of the biggest indie successes in history.  Anne is a bored housewife, stuck with an unfaithful banker husband who is sleeping with her sister. Graham is a sexy, sweet drifter capable of disrupting the fake balance of her married life by unveiling the secrets of a new intimacy. A waged war against the shackles of yuppie American culture.

Available on Amazon Prime

The Graduate

Dir. Mike Nichols 1967

In 1967 true love conveyed the full meaning of a rebellious act.  In The Graduate  a passionate love story becomes a generational statement against the boredom and emptiness of adult life.  An indie cult that won the Oscar for Best Director and consecrated Dustin Hoffman as one of Hollywood’s icons. 

Available on Amazon Prime

Ae Fond Kiss

Dir. Ken Loach 2004

A hidden gem by an unusual Ken Loach who, by the way,  denies being a romantic. What I like about this film is how the romance is enhanced by a strong political  message. The initial close and intimate focus on a man and a woman falling in love acquires a wider and universal perspective when the couple turns out to be not just a couple but the union of a British Muslim man and an Irish Catholic woman ostracized by their communities. A must see!

Available on Amazon Prime

Martyna’s recommendations

For me, a great romance film has to be more than just a love story with a happy ending. Don’t get me wrong; I adore romantic comedies where everything is simple and life is all about love. But from a truly great romance film I expect complex people, grounded in life and a plot that makes my brain work.

Sex and Lucia

Dir. Julio Medem, 2001

As a film programmer, I’m often asked what’s my favourite film…ever. For years my answer hasn’t changed. It’s Sex and Lucia. It is a film about everything; every important human emotion and condition. There is lust, happiness, loss, ecstasy, loneliness, grief, creativity, forgiveness and all the others that you have ever felt. Mostly, it is about love. This is one of the most complex and insightful romance films, or any film for that matter, I have ever watched.

Available on Amazon Prime

A Ghost Story

Dir. David Lowery, 2017

Another love story that is about so much more than just love. It is unique in that the story starts, rather than finishes when the relationship ends because one of the lovers dies. It becomes a tale of grief, love beyond death, but also of passing, loneliness and time. In this film David Lowery gives us insight into human nature by making his protagonist… a ghost.

Complete info on where it is available online can be found on A24 page, Watch Now box

A Tale of Winter

Dir. Éric Rohmer, 1992

A Tale of Winter is a perfect combination of two ingredients. One is a stereotypical French film; intellectual, packed with philosophical disputes and heavy on dialogue. The other is an utterly romantic, and endlessly funny love story. Much of the film’s success is gained from its relatable main protagonist, who, as annoying as she can be, wins viewers over to share her faith in the idealistic concept of having one true love.  Watch it, and you’ll get something for the heart and something for the brain.

Available on Amazon Prime

Bonus joint recommendation this week!


Dir. Steven Shainberg, 2002

We both wanted this in our own recommendations and argued over who gets first dibs. So this edgy, kinky and superbly acted love story between two dysfunctional individuals is a bonus double recommendation.  This one is not for the fainthearted.
P.S. And let’s be honest, we both have a crush on James Spader. Who’s with us?

Available on Amazon Prime

Other Raindance Pic(k)s

Documentary | QueerFeel-Good Films | Dark Humour | Absurdities | Women



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.