Immense; Raindance Kicks Off

By Edena Klimenti

Raindance film festival is a prestigious event that aims to celebrate up and coming film makers, supporting their craft and innovative creations. The event wishes to celebrate some of the most incredible short and feature length films which have been showcased at the festival, whilst directors and actors are also celebrated during the event; allowing them to socialise and discuss their films with viewers. The Raindance film festival has been running for 25 years, each year bringing fresh and new talent to our screens; aiming to celebrate and promote the underdogs in the film world.

In partnership with Lexus, Raindance are happy to announce their 25th anniversary film festival, which kicked off on the 20th, Wednesday evening. The evening commenced as the films, directors and actors were introduced; allowing the audience to praise and applaud the creatives. Raindance film festival pride themselves on celebrating creative freedom and the ever-changing film industry; which has seen new and exciting talents each year.

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“Lexus is strengthening its profile as an authentic lifestyle brand, encouraging and supporting exciting new ideas and creativity worldwide through activities such as Lexus Short Films and the Lexus Design Award. Our support for Raindance, a highly influential and successful cradle for innovation in film-making, reflects this commitment.” – Ewan Shepherd, Director of Lexus in the UK

Lexus, one of the main partners, introduced us to some incredible faces in the industry, and were kind enough to invite us to enjoy the incredible films on show. This year, ‘Game’ and ‘Oh Lucy!’ were the films of choice for the opening night. Wednesday night was the first screening of Game in the UK, and it proved to be a great success. Lexus then introduced us to the award-winning director of Game, Jeannie Donohoe, where we were later able to speak to her about her upbringing, and how her personal identity has influenced her body of work through the years.

‘To be examining your life and what you experience around you is a fundametnal reason for doing this because it’s endlessly interesting’ – Jeannie Donohoe

Game is an exceptionally inspiring film, tackling gender issues and masculinity within a modern high-school setting. The plot surrounds an androgynous young girl, who pushes societal boundaries by disguising herself as a boy in order to try out for the men’s basketball team. Anastasia’s drive shines through, proving to be a true talent she stands out and makes an incredible impression on her team members and of course, the coach. After proving herself ‘worthy’, Anastasia runs into some trouble with her team-mates, as her talent and presence proves intimidating. Talent and drive are not absent in Anastasia’s personality, it is the stereotype of female athletes that may hinder her chances of making the mens team. Donohoe mentions how her personal upbringing has influenced this film, although it may not be entirely obvious. ‘It’s funny people may not see it, I’m obviously not a highschool basketball player posing as a boy but it’s related to my life as a woman, having played a lot of sports growing up, it was very personal to me.’

Once her team-members find out that Anastasia is a girl, they almost feel relieved. She is no longer a threat. Donohoe uses this to portray the undeniable misogynistic behaviour that is displayed in all working, school and social environments. Once the coach finds out, the team find it almost humorous that she thought herself worthy of the mens team, they are sure now that she will be kicked out. Although, even to Anastasia’s surprise the coach is shockingly understanding and empathetic towards her dreams and aspirations. Will he allow her on the team?

jeanniedonohoePhoto by: Rossella Castello

Jeannie Donohoe is an award winning director who attended Columbia University’s graduate film programme, where she was able to exercise and manifest her passion for film making. ‘Being an artist is thinking about your identity and what it means to be on the planet.’ Donohoe wrote and directed Game which has gone on to win many awards at renowned film festivals all over the world, such as Best Short at The Julien Dubuque, the Audience Choice Award at the Los Angeles Indie Film Festival, Best Live Action Narrative at Tokyo Lift-Off, the Audience Award at the Napa Valley Film Festival and the Special Jury Award: Narrative Short at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. Donohoe has also written and directed several short films, and is excited to be working on her first feature length film, Flock. ‘In a short film you have time to tell one story, one ark of a character, in a feature you have time to go into sub plots and explore different characters, which is what I hope to do. I want to make a feature that’s related to this short film Game.’ 

Game is produced by Joey Horvitz of the Weinstein Company, one of four films produced. The films are part of the third season of Lexus short films, a partnership between Lexus and The Weinstein Company in order to support fresh and talented up-and-coming film creatives.

It was also recently announced that Game has won the Best Short Film Award at Raindance and has the potential as a contender in next years academy awards, an incredible opportunity for Donohoe.

 ‘It’s such an honour to receive this award for GAME at Raindance, I am very grateful to the festival for selecting our film. I saw such interesting, beautifully made short films this week, so it’s an especially big honour to be recognised among them and my huge thanks go to the jury.’ – Jeannie Donohoe 

Opening-9Photo by: Rossella Castello

During our incredible evening, we were also lucky enough to have watched ‘Oh Lucy!’ an intriguing American-Japanese drama/comedy. The story follows Setsuko Kawashima (Terajima), a lonely office lady in Tokyo. After being forced by her niece to take an English class, she is thrown out of her comfort zone with her new identity, an American alter ego, ‘Lucy.’ She desperately falls in love with her instructor, John (Josh Hartnett) and goes on a unusual trip to find him when he suddenly disappears from class. Setsuko finds comfort in John’s uplifting and fun personality, as she is portrayed as a lonely chain-smoking individual that is in need of companionship in her life.

The opening of the film is harsh and hard hitting, as Setsuko waits for her train to work, a man behind her pushes past her in order to jump in front of a moving train- a situation that seems desensitised throughout the film as it is clearly a common occurrence. There is constant striking imagery throughout the film which leads viewers to assume that perhaps Setsuko may end her life in the same way. Although this does not happen, the hard-hitting imagery reinforces the harsh reality of depression and loneliness and how this can impact our lives.

Raindance is showcasing amazing, inspiring, hard-hitting and game changing talent every year. The creatives are what inspire the process, as their drive and personal inspirations shine through their work, making it an undeniably charming experience each time.

Raindance kicked off on Wednesday the 20th September and will finish on 1st October 2017.

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