Last week, the Raindance Film Festival opened in London with the UK Premiere of Atsuko Hirayanagi’s drama-comedy Oh Lucy!, starring Josh Hartnett and Shinobu Terajima. The film brilliantly tells the story of Setsuko Kawashima, a desperate, lonely, chain-smoking office worker (Terajima) living in Tokyo. She enrolls in an English class and falls in love with her teacher John (Hartnett) . As she adopts an American name and gets familiar with John’s strange learning methods, the main character frees herself from society-imposed norms. When John suddenly departs Japan, Setsuko embarks on a quest to find him in the US, eventually leading her to San Diego. There she unfolds a series of drama-comical situations involving everyone around her including her sister and niece. The film is a success and constantly swings between hilarious situations and serious moments exploring themes of suicide, loneliness and family.
Celebrating its 25th year, the Festival takes place in London’s West End from September 20th – October 1st, 2017. Raindance Founder Elliot Grove was joined by jury member, actor Jamie Campbell Bower (Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 & 2) as they revealed this year’s competition films in the UK Features, Documentaries, Shorts and Web Series categories, as well as the programme for the hotly anticipated Virtual Reality strand.
The Festival received a record-breaking number of submissions this year from over 120 countries, the highest it has received to date and will screen over 200 projects – including features, shorts, webfest, VR and music videos. A champion of independent filmmaking, Raindance is the largest independent film festival in Europe and has consistently been a great supporter of the UK film industry.
Along with Jamie Campbell Bower, this year’s competition films will be judged by a panel of industry members and film journalists including, Ex-BIFA director Johanna Von Fischer and acclaimed Spanish producer Rosa Bosch, and some of the best names in British talent, including Jack O’Connell (Money Monster, Unbroken), Sean Bean (Game Of Thrones, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy), Christopher Eccleston (Thor, Dr Who), Ewen Bremner (Wonder Woman, Trainspotting), Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones series, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Training Day, Broadchurch), Nicholas Lyndhurst (A United Kingdom, Only Fools and Horses), Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Hotel Rwanda, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End), Josh Whitehouse (Poldark, Northern Soul), Neil Marshall (Westworld, Game Of Thrones) and Rachel Portman (One Day, Chocolat).
Other highlights include the International Premiere of Stuck by Michael Berry, starring Giancarlo Eposito (Okja) and Amy Madigan (Gone Baby Gone) is an original pop musical film about six strangers who get stuck underground on a New York City subway together and change each other’s lives in unexpected ways.
To recognize the outstanding achievements of this year’s filmmakers, the jury will go through each of the Feature Films, selected for Official Competition, in the following categories; Best Film, Best Director, Best screenplay, Best Performance.