Raindance Picks Films: UK Films | Raindance Film Festival

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

Even though Raindance is an international film festival, we are located in the heart of London and passionate about championing British productions. We are always on the lookout for new UK stories and talent, and we screen a dedicated strand of homegrown indie films every year. 

Personally, for Malaika and I, as foreign nationals, watching British films was and still is a way of getting to know the culture, society, habits, humour, and pains of the country we call home. Have a look at who and what we value in UK cinema. 

Martyna’s recommendations

Life is Sweet

Dir. Mike Leigh, 1990

One of the masters of British social-realistic cinema, Mike Leigh does not disappoint fans with this bittersweet and humorous tale of an English working class family. Superbly casted, brilliantly acted and undeniably funny, the film portrays the everyday life and more serious issues within a suburban English household. While the characters are oddballs and the setting and themes are from a particular part of British society, the struggles are universal.

Available on Amazon Prime

Fish Tank

Dir. Andrea Arnold, 2009

Mia is a girl living in an Essex council estate with a drunk, neglectful mother. Thrown out of school, she has no friends and no prospects for the future. Her loneliness is devastating and her rage vast. Arnold’s film grows from the roots of the British social-realism tradition but she puts her own spin on it. The drama is a sharp yet sensitive observation of an adolescent girl coming of age in truly difficult conditions, which could break her forever. Mia is played by amateur actress Katie Jarvis, who brings believability in her sensational portrayal.

Available on BFI Player & available on Amazon Prime

Malaika’s recommendations

Land and Freedom

Dir. Ken Loach, 1995

I watched this film when I was a kid and yet it resonated with me so strongly I have been chasing Ken Loach’s films ever since. A powerful search for justice on earth when it is well told can’t leave you cold. This is the story of a war in a faraway past in a faraway land and yet the film is so emotionally intense to break any barrier. It gets to the core of a universal quest for what is good and just without compromising. I will always admire this British director for giving the world a lesson on how to make films about social injustice.

Available on Amazon Prime


Dir. Steve McQueen, 2008

First feature film by artist and director Steve McQueen, Hunger won the Cannes Camera D’or in 2008. It narrates the last days of IRA activist Bobby Sands who died on a hunger strike to protest against prison brutality. One of the most intriguing aspects about this film is that the harshness of life conditions in prison emerges through the artistic eye of the director. In a scene, Fassbender spreads his feces on the wall and that gesture of desperate rebellion against the authority results in a perfectly round and harmonious spiral, a token of beauty made of shit.

Available on Amazon Prime

Other Raindance Pic(k)s

Documentary | QueerRomanceFeel-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.