Mockingjay: Part 1

Turns a political struggle into something thrillingly personal.

The Beat Beneath My Feet

A toe-tapping indie that is, quite simply lovely.


An extraordinary true tale made disappointingly ordinary.

The Battle of the Five Armies

"Why does it hurt so much?" Because the rest of it felt so real.


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Tag:raindance 2012

2012 BIFA Award Nominations

Hear that? That's the sound of my favourite awards ceremony returning. Yes, the 2012 BIFA Awards nominations have been announced - and Broken is leading the pack with 9 nods.

Last year, the BIFAs really hit their stride, streaming their ceremony live online and marking something of a golden 12 months for British films thanks to stuff like Tyrannosaur. But this year has proven to be equally strong, with Berberian Sound Studio and Sightseers in second place with 7 nominations apiece.

Broken has bagged nods for Best Film, Best Director and Best Debut Director for Rufus Norris, alongside Best Actor for Tim Roth and two Best Supporting Actor nominations for Cillian Murphy and Rory Kinnear. But Norris isn't the only first-time man at the helm, with the Douglas Hickox Debut Award fought over by Bart Layton for The Imposter, Ben Drew for Ill Manors, Rowan Athale for Wasteland, and Sally El Hosaini for My Brother the Devil.

It's great to see Andrea Riseborough nominated for Best Actress in Shadow Dancer, duking it out with Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, The Dench for Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Alice Lowe for Sightseers and - most deserved of all - Elle Fanning for Ginger & Rosa. Last year, Olivia Colman went from BIFA success to BAFTA victory. My money's on the phenomenal 14 year old - FOURTEEN - doing exactly the same.

The Best Actor content is equally close, with the ever-wonderful Riz Ahmed up for Ill manors facing terrifying competition from Terence Stamp for Song for Marion (surely a contender for cinema's Best Glower Award) and the astonishingly, consistently, oh-my-word-how-does-he-manage-to-be-so-fantastic Toby Jones for Berberian Sound Studio. Billy Connolly has a suppporting nod for Quartet, alongside Tom Wilkinson for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel but the most encouraging nomination goes to future acting legend Domhnall Gleeson, who would've stolen the show in Shadow Dancer if Andrea Riseborough wasn't so flipping amazing.

Olivia Colman returns in the supporting categories for Hyde Park on Hudson, but she'll struggle against the equally fantastic Alice Englert for Ginger & Rosa and Vanessa Redgrave - the lady dubbed a "sexy owl" during last year's awards ceremony.

And that's the saddest news for this year's BIFAs. Independent filmmaking is alive and well, but they will not be hosted by a drunk Chris O'Dowd again, after he downed several pints of Guinness and slurred his way through the evening while talking to himself on the video screens. Instead, previous host James Nesbitt is back again, guaranteed to make this year's ceremony 62% less drunk and therefore 92% more boring. Even the news that Tom Hiddleston is on the BIFA jury for 2012 can't make up for such a regrettable decision.

Meanwhile, I can't let the occasion pass without a shout out to the 2012 Raindance Award. My favourite award of the ceremony, the nominees this year go out to some of the Raindance Film Festival's best entires, including Frank, City Slacker, documentary Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet, the moving dance flick Love Tomorrow and Rob Savage's Strings, a film made by the director when he was just 18. And if that's not what a British film awards ceremony is about, I don't know what it is. Well, that and watching a drunk Chris O'Dowd hit on Vanessa Redgrave. Oh well, one out of two ain't bad.

The 15th British Independent Film Awards will take place on Sunday 9th December. Read on for the full list of nominations - or head this way for Chris O'Dowd's Top 5 Drunk BIFA Moments.

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Raindance 2012 UK cinema distribution

You remember last year, when Raindance saw a record number of visitors flock to the festival? Well, it’s happened again. Attendance at Raindance 2012 jumped by one-third this year – proof that there's audience demand out there for indie films. And we were there for the whole thing, interrogating Americans, critiquing Croatians and falling in love with Finland.

So what happens now? Last year, there were six films that got the coveted UK theatrical distribution after the hugely popular 11-day event. Out of the 105 films showing at Raindance 2012, we saw and reviewed 24. Out of those, only two were proper duds – that gives you an idea of the scary level of quality this year.

My favourites include prison movie StringCaesar, bizarre tourist flick Practical Guide to Belgrade, the disturbing Vegetarian Cannibal and the slacker comedy Cinema Six. But while I like them a lot, it’s hard to convince anyone to go and see a film in which Derek Jacobi and a hoard of South African inmates act out the early life of Julius Caesar – no matter how inspiring it is.


So listen up, all you lovely indie distributors out there. These are the six Raindance 2012 films I would love to get UK theatrical distribution.

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Director: Diego Rougier
Cast: Fele Martinez, Gonzalo Valenzuela, Patricio Contreras, Javiera Contador

“You need to write with blood.”

That’s what struggling Chilean writer Sergio (Martinez) is told by his friends when they read his movie script for a Western. “You write as if you’ve never been there,” says another. The solution? Head out to the Atacama Desert and do it for himself. The problem? Everyone there keeps thinking he’s Diego.

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Director: James Carman
Cast: Dr. Edgar Mitchell

“I can’t stand the term UFOs. We’ve known for years what they are…’

That’s one of the many contributors to The Hidden Hand, a film exploring the claims of people who have seen aliens.

People who say they were abducted are called abductees. People who say they had friendly contact with aliens are called contactees. People who label their experience as neither positive nor negative are called experiencers.

I call all of them something else: crackpots.

But while The Hidden Hand can be a lot of fun to giggle and smirk through, James Carman’s documentary does something a lot smarter: it doesn’t judge them at all.
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Portrait of a Zombie - Raindance
Director: Bing Bailey
Cast: Patrick Murphy, Geraldine McAlinden, Rory Mullen

“How would you feel if every new person you met screamed, fainted or threw up?” asks Billy’s mum. “No wonder he lashes out.” Billy (Murphy), you see, has been living in his parents’ home for an unnaturally long time. He lies on the bed all day, groaning, sleeping, and waiting for his mum to bring him food. A typical young fella, then. Except for the fact that he’s a zombie.

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Vegetarian Cannibal, Croatia 
Director: Branko Schmidt
Cast: Rene Bitorajac, Zrinka Cvitešić, Leon Lučev

“No dogs were harmed in the making of this movie.”

They certainly can’t say the same about the humans. A Vegetarian Cannibal, gynaecologist Dr. Babić devours the people around him. He forges test results, blackmails enemies, seduces women and bribes officials – and that’s just the people he works with. His patients, pregnant women ranging from illegally trafficked prostitutes to his friend’s unwanted mistress, get it even worse.

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Practical Guide to Belgrade - Raindance review
Director: Bojan Vuletic
Cast: Jean Marc Barr, Julie Gayet, Baki Davrak

“After long hard years of isolation… war and terrorism… Belgrade has opened its heart again to tourists and visitors from across the world who are curious.”

So speaks a woman, standing in front of a choir of singing airhostesses. If that doesn’t make you curious, I don’t know what will.

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Derek Jacobi, StringCaesar

"I know you’re meant to work to target audiences, but I’ve never done what you’re supposed to do. I don’t think I’m capable of it…"

That’s director Paul Schoolman explaining the ambitious, unique and really quite striking StringCaesar. Shot in Cardiff, Canada and South Africa’s prisons, it’s a film showing Julius Caesar’s rise to power, spilling blood and slitting throats – all behind bars.

Starring Derek Jacobi alongside hundreds of inmates, StringCaesar had its UK premiere at the Raindance Film Festival this week. I interviewed Sir Derek after the film. It went something like this:

Thank you.

[Derek smiles]

That happened while he held open the door for me in the toilet.

My brief encounter with Sir Derek over, I then spoke to Schoolman about the production. He explained how many years he’d been working on the film – since 1984. Or, as he accurately put it, “before you were born”. Stopping every few minutes to talk to a friend, colleague or granddaughter, he cuts an enthusiastic figure, satisfied that his project is now complete.

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String Caesar - Raindance

Director: Paul Schoolman
Cast: Derek Jacobi

“As I sit in my cell barred and bolted… my soul finds release like a nomad… and wanders for me in the night.”

The words are written by Tony, an inmate at Dartmoor Prison, but they could easily belong to Julius Caesar. Long before he came to power, young Jules was dismissed as a loser, a waste of space, a homosexual. He grew up in a time of conflict and bloodshed. Dictators. Thugs. War. They’re the hallmarks of 80s BC Rome, but they could easily belong to modern day Dartmoor. Or Cardiff. Or Drumheller Pentientiary in Alberta. Or Pollsmoor Prison in South Africa, where Mandela was once held.

String theory says there are many alternate realities. StringCaesar, then, sees two of them collide behind bars around the world. Citizens wear orange jumpsuits, while rulers spark riots in the corridors and order murder in the yards.

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Interview: Rob Savage, Strings

As the Raindance Film Festival reaches its final weekend, you begin to realise which films are your favourites - and one of the ones that has certainly stuck with me is Strings, an ultra-low-budget tale of teenagers, romance and alienation directed by freakishly talented young person Rob Savage.


An erstwhile colleague from fellow film blog Cine-Vue, I caught up with him after two successful screenings at London's Apollo West End, one of which sold out completely, and tried to steal his evil secrets to success. Here's what I managed to squeeze from his brain.

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