Stardust, starring Johnny Flynn
Stardust, starring Johnny Flynn

Raindance Film Festival opens on October 28th with the UK Premiere of Stardust directed by Gabriel Range. Stardust stars Johnny Flynn (Emma, Beast) as a young David Bowie embarking on his first trip to America, revealing the inspirations and life events that gave birth to his iconic alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, charting the transformation of one of the world’s greatest cultural icons.

The festival will close on November 7th with the UK Premiere of Here Are the Young Men, directed by Eoin Macken. This story of three Dublin teenagers who leave school to a social vacuum of drinking and drugs, falling into shocking transgression, stars Dean-Charles Chapman (1917, Game Of Thrones), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma, The Witch), Finn Cole (Slaughterhouse Rulez, Animal Kingdom), and Ferdia Walsh-Peelo (Sing Street, Vikings).

In response to the global pandemic, the 28th Raindance Film Festival will proceed as a hybrid of remote engagement and live activity, running October 28 – November 7, online and live in London.

“Storytelling brings us together,” says Raindance founder Elliot Grove. “This year more than ever, we need the medium of film to unite us, inspire us, and help us to feel empowered and not isolated. No matter where you are in the UK, as long as you have a screen you can be a part of the Raindance Film Festival. There’s no stopping us.”

The full online program of films, shorts, Q&As and VR experiences will be offered for FREE (pay-what-you-can donations are encouraged to help Raindance to continually support and champion indie film in the UK – and to celebrate the 28th Raindance, 28% of proceeds will be donated to charity.)

FILM HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

A DIRTY WORLD: an eye-opening presentation of environmental films screening in partnership with conservation organization The Nature Conservancy.

THE GREAT GREEN WALL (dir: Jared P. Scott, UK). UK Premiere. Executive produced by Oscar-nominee Fernando Meirelles (City of God), it follows Malian musician, actress and UN Ambassador, Inna Modja on an epic journey along Africa’s ambitious Great Green Wall.

THE PRICE OF PROGRESS (dir: Victor Luengo, Spain). UK Premiere. Documenting both sides of the argument around the controversy of GMO foods.

ONCE YOU KNOW (dir: Emmanuel Cappellin, France). UK Premiere. Exploring energy depletion and runaway climate change, it questions how will we cope with an ending world.

POLITICO: stories of social and political significance.

CITIZEN PENN (dir: Don Hardy, USA). European Premiere. Actor and filmmaker Sean Penn joins aid workers from around the world to help the relief effort following 2010’s devastating Haiti earthquake.

I AM NOT A HERO (dir: Pablo Crutzen Diaz, Robin Smit, Stijn Deconinck, Belgium). European Premiere. Timely and often harrowing portrayal of Belgian health workers combating COVID-19.

APRIL 7, 1980 (dir: Nadav Schirman, Israel). World Premiere. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Nadav Schirman (The Green Prince) directs this tense hostage drama set in a Kibbutz nursery.

ARTY: a cinematic canvas of diverse creative processes.

HE DREAMS OF GIANTS (dir: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe, UK). UK Premiere. Following their 2002 documentary Lost In La Mancha, filmmakers Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe return to follow Terry Gilliam’s new (successful) attempt at filming The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.

UPROOTED: THE JOURNEY OF JAZZ DANCE (dir: Khadifa Wong, USA). International Premiere. Exploring the lineage and future progressions of jazz dance, from its Afro-American roots to Broadway, with contributors including Debbie Allen and Joshua Bergasse.

FEMALE GAZE: a viewpoint covering everything from motherhood to relationships, desire to abuse.

WILLOW (dir: Milcho Manchevski, Republic of North Macedonia/Hungary/Belgium). UK Premiere. This Academy Award nominated and Venice Golden Lion winning director portrays three women from medieval times and the present as they struggle to become mothers.

FORCE OF HABIT (dir: Reetta Aalto, Alli Haapasalo, Anna Paavilainen, Kirsikka Saari, Miia Tervo, Elli Toivoniemi, Jenni Toivoniemi, Finland). UK Premiere. Seven directors depict the lives of various women on one day; their stories illustrate the normality of sexual harassment and abuse.

THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE (dir: Maria Finitzo, USA). UK Premiere. Executive produced by Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple, it follows four women artists/activists who aim to shatter myths by celebrating the clitoris and female sexual pleasure.

ABSURDITIES: surreal and unconventional narratives, just right for every film nerd.

NOT TO BE UNPLEASANT, BUT WE NEED TO HAVE A SERIOUS TALK (dir: Giorgos Georgopoulos, Greece). UK Premiere. Dark comedy about a womanizer who must inform his ex-girlfriends that he’s a carrier of a sexually transmitted virus, lethal only for women.

THE EAGLE’S NEST (dir: Olivier Assoua, UK). UK Premiere. The story of two girls from Cameroon intent on migrating to Europe, they’re portrayed as unlikely superheroes in this surreal fantasy with a rich impression of African culture.

SONICA: a brand new strand supported by Spotify, resonating with music documentaries and live performances.

DIFFERENT JOHNS (dir: Robert Carr, France). European Premiere. Feature documentary exploring the different lives of John Cohen: folk musician, photographer, filmmaker, and one of the great faces of the 50s Beat Generation.

JIMMY IS PUNK (dir: Duco Donk, The Netherlands). European Premiere. A punk story about the 1976 Dutch band Panic: capturing the pure undiluted spirit of punk.

QUEER: the full rainbow spectrum of LGBTQ+ cinema.

A DIM VALLEY (dir: Brandon Colvin, USA). International Premiere. In this queer hallucinogenic fairytale, a biologist and his two pot-smoking assistants working deep in the Appalachian woods encounter a trio of mystical backpackers.

BORN TO BE (dir: Tania Cypriano, USA). UK Premiere. An intimate look at how the work of Dr Jess Ting at New York’s groundbreaking Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery impacts the lives of his patients, as well as his own life.

GENERATION Z: hot on the heels of the Millennials comes a fresh point of view.

NUCLEAR (dir: Catherine Linstrum, UK). UK Premiere. The feature debut by Cannes Un Certain Regard and Welsh BAFTA award-winning short filmmaker Catherine Linstrum, this tense drama stars George MacKay, Emilia Jones, Sienna Guillory and Oliver Coopersmith.

OUR OWN (dir: Jeanne Leblanc, Canada). European Premiere. Rising star Emilie Bierre plays a 13-year old who falls pregnant in this complex and compelling small-town drama.

DISCOVERY: the place to find maverick works by first-time filmmakers.

MY THOUGHTS ARE SILENT (dir: Antonio Lukich, Ukraine). UK Premiere. A champion at festivals including Karlovy Vary, this oddball drama follows an over-tall sound engineer and his diminutive mother, as they head to the mountains to record the sound of a very rare bird.

EASTERN (dir: Piotr Adamski, Poland). A brutal, gun-wielding tale of two families entangled in a never-ending blood vendetta.

SURVIVAL SKILLS (dir: Quinn Armstrong, USA). European Premiere. Presented as a lost training video from the 1980s, with Golden Globe winner Stacy Keach as narrator, it tells of a good policeman trying to resolve a domestic violence case.

VR HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

PAPER BEAST (creator: Eric Chahi). The first VR game from this famous game developer, it explores our connections to wildlife and technology.

THE DEVOURING (creators: Lakuza, Fionna, Legends and CyanLaser). A multi-player VR horror game created on the VRChat platform and set in a mysterious manor house.

SCARECROW (creator: Sngmoo Lee). Since its Sundance debut as live VR immersive theatre that utilised a real actor, it’s been reimagined post-COVID especially for Raindance with the actor now in a motion-capture suit, and performing as an avatar within VRChat.

CRUMB’S SCHOOL FOR DISOBEDIENT PETS (Creators: Adventure Lab). Private VR adventures and puzzle-solving with a live host, for up to four players.

MARANGA (creator: Durk van der Meer). A colourful multi-player virtual theme park.

VIRTUALLY SPEAKING (creator: Joe Hunting). Docu-series in which Joe Hunting meets people who found refuge during lockdown in the virtual worlds of VRChat – the filmed interviews take place in those very same worlds, avatar to avatar.

BABA YAGA (creator: Baobab Studios). Enchanting VR experience from 6-time Emmy Award-winning Baobab Studios, featuring the voices of Daisy Ridley, Glenn Close, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Hudson.

DEMAGNETE VR (creator: BitCake Studio). Puzzle adventure game about magnetism, with the companion character voiced by famous video game voice actress Ashly Burch.

PAPER BIRDS (creators: German Heller, Federico Carlini). Jojo Rabbit star Archie Yates voices the lead character, a boy musician whose music attracts mysterious paper birds.

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