Raindance Film Festival 2011: Preview

This morning, the Raindance Film Festival – Europe’s leading independent film festival – released the programme for its 19th incarnation. Priding itself on championing the ‘little guy’, this year’s festival entries have been whittled down from the 3000 submissions to a more manageable collection of 98 features (all UK premieres) and 137 shorts.

Opening this year’s extravaganza of edgy, alternative films will be Mike Cahill’s haunting sci-fi drama Another Earth (2011). A breakthrough hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Another Earth stars up-and-coming actor Brit Marling alongside William Mapother. The film harks back to the thoughtful science fiction films of the seventies, with more emphasis placed on the cultural and social warnings previously associated with the genre, rather than the visual spectacle and outlandish special effects of recent times.

When a duplicate Earth is discovered in the solar system by an ambitious astronomer, it soon becomes apparent that it is in fact a parallel version of our own world, with many believing it might possible open a window into how different our own lives might had been if we’d followed different paths. This thoroughly thought provoking film with undeniable draw in the crowds and seems a fitting opening night film for this festival of independent cinema.

This year’s event continues to promote home grown talent with a strong selection of UK produced films, including Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe’s Black Pond (2011), which stars award-winning stand up Simon Amstell and Chris Langham. Johnny Daukes’ Acts of Godfrey (2011), a black comedy written entirely in rhyming couplets, is also showing, and with its unique and quirky approach to storytelling is certainly one worth checking out.

The highlight of this year’s Raindance Film Festival has to be the European cinema section of the programme – specifically the Balkan strand – which will allow audiences to witness some of the most critically revered films to emerge from the cluster of relatively new countries born from the collapse of Yugoslavia. Out of the numerous titles on show, Croatian director Rajko Grlic’s Just Between Us (2010) is perhaps the most promising. A warm tale of infidelity charting the convoluted love lives of two brothers, their wives and their mistresses, which looks set to use the festival as a stepping stone to further success on the festival circuit.

In recent years, the Raindance Film Festival has uncovered such monumental films as Pulp Fiction (1994), Memento (2000) and Ghost World (2001), so if you’re looking for something a little more grounded in the roots of filmmaking, or tired of the pomp and paraphernalia of the more established film festivals then why not help support independent film and pop on down to this year’s celebration of alternative cinema.

The Raindance Film Festival 2011 will run from 28 September to 9 October. For more details, visit raindance.co.uk/site/festival.