Raindance Film Festival 2016: Lexus short films

By Jo Phillips

The Raindance Film Festival 2016 is here. To read an overview on the whole festival including a selection of the films that  are being shown, please read our other article here.  However, we thought it may be nice to bring you a little closer to the workings of the festival with an insider take on not only the short film ‘The Nation holds its Breath’ but the involvement of luxury vehicle brand Lexus who partners with The Weinstein Company in making four shorts for the festival (Lexus are in fact the  main partner to this year’s Festival). Lexus’s involvement reinforces its international profile as an active supporter of creativity and innovation in movie-making through their annual Lexus short film series.  This season the shorts  include “The Nation Holds Its Breath” by Irish director Kev Cahill, “Friday Night” by French director Alexis Michalik, and “Messiah” by Australian director Damian Walshe-Howling.

On the first night of the festival the short film “The Nation Holds Its Breath” was premiered as part of the opening night programme. The director Kev Cahill has a successful background in visual arts, known for his work on popular films such as “The Huntsman: Winter’s War”, “Thor: The Dark World”, and “Alice Through The Looking Glass”. Lexus and The Weinstein Company have come together to present a shorts series to support emerging new film-making talent with “The Nation Holds Its Breath” as one of the four films having been produced. This film is about a young (about to be) father who is torn between witnessing the miracle of childbirth, against witnessing the miracle of the Republic of Ireland reaching the quarter finals of the 1990 football world cup (a truly thrilling event for such a small nation). The central roles are played superbly by Irish actors Sam Keeley  (the father to be) and Barbara Brennan (the mother to be).

Whilst attended the screening we had the chance to speak with the director Kev Cahill and producer Joey Horvitz about their experiences of making the short.  First of all, producer Joey says he was initially approached because he had produced films and commercials in the past yet he saw an amazing opportunity to collaborate with Lexus to make these four shorts. He explained to .Cent that the hardest thing to do as a producer in any film making process  is to “identify any issues and come up with solutions” but he also explained he was also impressed with Lexus as ‘there was no mandate from them to put any cars in the films’, very refreshing from a sponsor.

Whilst chatting with the director Kev Cahill we learnt that in order to even enter the  competition, directors have to have had previous work screened at a film  festival.  This was a way to cut down the amount of films the judging panel would need to sift through in order to get down to a final selection of four scripts to be developed. ‘This year’,  Horvitz told .Cent ‘was the first time they has an open call and there were about 4500 submissions’, so he mentioned having to reach out for some help. A small team watched the films and selected the ones they loved and liked.  Joey explained he didn’t just look at the ones that were loved but also looked at the likes too.  Thats a lot of work!

Director Kev Cahill explained the amazing opportunity of working with both Lexus and The Weinstein Company on the film; a very different experience to the other short he had previously made. His first short was self funded and therefore had a very restrictive budget  however, working with a proper budget and proper production, allows for so much more freedom which comes with other challenges yet gives a wonderful chance to  understand how the whole of the film business works especially if you (like he) wants to go on and make full length feature films.

In an interview with the Lexus team, we had the chance to explore Lexus’ point of view on being the sponsor not just of the main Raindance Film Festival but also specifically the short films. Their reason for deciding to focus on film,  is because this medium can support international and new filmmakers at the same time and  it is an interesting new format which unites imagination with creativity.  The short film productions are really important for them because it is a great opportunity for the brand to reach a new, younger audience, an audience they would  normally not talk to, and then connect with them. Films are after all,  a great way of telling stories. Furthermore, Lexus aims to get global recognition for the brand that  is in fact only 27 years young. Through the Raindance Film Festival, their purpose is to change the perceptions of the brand and to appeal to the audience that would not have ordinarily considered  Lexus as a high end crafted creative brand.

David Nordstrom, General Manager of Lexus International’s Global Branding department, said: “Each year the work of our directors never ceases to amaze us. We are honoured to be in partnership with The Weinstein Company to bring these film-makers’ aspirations to life.”

The brand also told us why they align with film.  They feel it bring to life craft and imagination, values they feel are shared between film making and their cars.  They also explained that full length films would be impossible to be involved with but the short format is a very interesting as a medium to support  young talent often just coming out of schools and therefore really enabling  directors on their creative journey.  After all many of the great film makers came our of short film making.

This year, Lexus presents its third short film series with its chosen theme “Anticipation”.  It was only the last twenty film directors  in the competition that were in fact invited to enter a script especially linked to the chosen theme. Ultimately it was the final  four selected filmmakers that shared their interpretations and meanings of the theme and  got to tell a story based around that vision. Here is a little preview of the other Lexus short films from this year’s Raindance Film Festival:

“Messiah” is one of the Lexus short films and it is by Damien Walshe-Howling. In a playful collision of cultures, a hapless Irishman and his Parisian girlfriend get more than they bargained for when they encounter a particularly mischievous stranger in the spectacular Australian wilderness. On June 8th, 2016, the film premiered at the Sydney Film Festival.

The next film is called “Friday Night” and it is by Alexis Michalik. While visiting her daughter who is studying abroad in France, Claire is thrown into the midst of a city-wide attack. In a place where she doesn’t speak the language or know her way around, she’s forced to navigate this French metropolis in the dark of night in a desperate search to find her daughter and ensure her safety. The film premiered at Tokyo Short Shorts during the opening night ceremonies of the film festival on June 2nd, 2016.

In addition to contributing works from its current short films series, Lexus is supporting this year’s Raindance Festival as a main partner. Its involvement includes the festival’s first Virtual Reality arcade and an Origami Lounge. The new Lexus LC luxury coupe will also be on display. 





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