15th Aug2017

Raindance Film Festival (Film)

by timbaros

20768037_10155650003862803_8328159887117642741_nThe 25th annual Raindance Film Festival announced its line-up this morning at London’s Vue Cinema in Leicester Square, and it includes world, international, European and UK premieres. The Festival will take place at the same cinema from September 20th – October 1st, 2017.

The UK Premiere of Atsuko Hirayanagi’s Oh Lucy! (USA), starring Josh Hartnett is the opening night film. The film is a drama-comedy and tells the story of Setsuko Kawashima, a lonely, chain-smoking office lady in Tokyo who is past her prime and adopts an American alter ego. The Festival’s Closing Night film will be announced later in the month.

Raindance 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.

Jamie Campbell Bower (Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 & 2), Raindance Jury Member, announced the line-up alongside Elliot Grove, Raindance Founder. Alongside Bower, this year’s competition films will be judged by a panel of industry members and film journalists including, 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).

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. Films nominated in these categories include the international premiere of Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak’s feature debut, Maya Dardel (USA), starring Lena Olin and Rosanna Arquette, which tells the story of a famous writer, who states her intention to end her own life during an interview on NPR, and invites male writers to compete to become the executor of her estate; The Constitution (Croatia), directed by Rajko Grlic, follows four people who live in the same building but avoid each other due to differences in their assets, sexual habits, nationality and religion; Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s Mukoku (Japan), tells the story of a security guard, whose best days are behind, until a chance encounter changes everything.

Additional features in Official Competition include both narratives and documentaries vying for Best UK Film, Best Documentary and the coveted Discovery Award, which is given to Best Debut Film. Films nominated in these categories include; the World Premiere of In Another Life (UK), Jason Wingard’s directional debut, set against the backdrop of the Calais Jungle, where refugee Adnan battles to be reunited with his wife in the UK; The Family I Had (USA), directed by female co-directors Katie Green and Carlyle Rubin, is a documentary featuring a mother recalling how her teenage son shattered their idyllic family through one violent act; Children Of The Night (Italy / Belgium), Andrea De Sica, grandson of four times Academy Award winner, Vittoria De Sica, tells the story of Giulio, a seventeen-year old from a well-to-do family, who is sent to a remote boarding school the Alps, where iron-clad rules limit all contact with the outside. He makes friends with Edoardo, an oddball, and their friendship is sealed by frequent escapes at night, to a nightclub hidden in the forest.

Other noteworthy films playing at the festival include You Are Killing Me Susana (Mexico / Canada), by Robert Sneider, producer of Frida, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal, and tells the story of a Mexican native adapting to life in the USA; Heitor Dhalia’s On Yoga The Architecture Of Peace (Brazil / USA) is based on Michael O’Neill’s book of the same name, and tells the story of the 10 years the author spent photographing Yoga’s great masters; RiverBlue: Can Fashion Save The Planet? by David McIlvrid and Roger Williams, follows internationally celebrated river conservationist Mark Angelo on an around-the-world journey by river that uncovers the dark side of the fashion industry; Tom Gustafson’s Hello Again (USA) starring Rumer Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, is the film adaptation of the popular Broadway musical, it explores 10 fleeting love affairs across 10 periods of time in New York City history.

The LGBT strand will showcase legendary queer director Bruce LaBruce’s latest feature, The Misandrists (Germany), about a young man who unknowingly is taken in by members of the Female Liberation Army – a lesbian separatist stronghold; Becks (USA), co-directed by Daniel Powell and Rebecca Drysdale, starring Mena Suvari, sees a Brooklyn musician move back in with her Midwestern mother, after a crushing breakup with her girlfriend. As she navigates her hometown, playing for tip money in an old friend’s bar, an unexpected relationship unfolds; Travis Mathews’, Discreet (Germany) tells the story of an eccentric drifter who returns home and discovers his childhood abuser is still alive.

This year’s films directed by women include Leslie Ann Coles’ debut documentary Melody Makers (UK) which stars Melody Maker Magazine’s Chief Contributing Photographer, Barrie Wentzel, who tells the story of the rise and fall of the magazine, which marked the end of a style of rock ‘n’ roll journalism that no longer exists today; Barrage (Luxembourg) directed by Laura Schroeder, stars Academy Award nominee Isabelle Huppert, and her real life daughter Lolita Chammah, following the journey of Catherine (Chammah), who is returning to Luxembourg after ten years abroad, to catch up with her young daughter who has been brought up by Catherine’s mother (Huppert), and kidnaps her taking her on a road trip; City Of Joy (USA) is Madeline Gavin’s inspiring documentary following the first class of students at a remarkable leadership centre in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a region often referred as “the worst place in the world to be a woman”.

Running between September 28 – October 1, the newly established virtual reality strand will feature the Raindance VRX Awards, VRX Summit, VRX Market and the VR Arcade. The brand new VRX awards will recognise pioneering virtual reality experiences in 10 categories: Best Interactive Narrative Experience, Best Mobile Interactive Experience, Best Cinematic Narrative Experience, Best Documentary Experience, Best Animation Experience, Best Music Experience, Best Branded Experience, Best Sensual Experience, Best Social Impact Experience and Best Sound Design Experience.

There is so so much more that Raindance will offer this year. All the information can be found on their website – Raindance.org.
Tickets go on sale on the website later today.

The Online Festival box office will be open from noon on August 15th, 2017, the cinema box office will be open from September, 20th 2017.

Festival tickets can be purchased through the Festival website:

Raindance Film Festival

Festival passes can be purchased through the Festival website: http://raindancefestival.org/register-now/

Press can apply for accreditation through the Festival website:

Press Accreditations

Industry can apply for accreditation through the Festival website:

Accreditations 2016

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10th Aug2017

Tom of Finland (Film)

by timbaros

LAURI TILKANENWe all know who Tom of Finland was, but not many people know the real life story of the man behind the sexy images – Touko Laaksonen. The new movie ‘Tom of Finland,’ tells us about his fascinating, and interesting life.

But it’s a bit of a shame because the film is not very exciting. It should have been given that this man is most famous for his drawings of muscular and very well-endowed men in various incriminating sexual positions, but this aspect of the film takes a bit of a backseat to the more biographical nature of his life. Laaksonen, (ably played by Finish actor Pekka Strang), was a decorated officer in WWII and fought in battles against the Nazis where he was face to face with the enemy, and which makes an indelible impression on him for life. After the war he returns home to live with his homophobic sister Kaijia (Jessica Grabowsky) and leads a very unexciting life working at an advertising agency. It’s only when he starts drawing men is when he starts feeling alive, more so because he starts to explore his sexuality in a place where it was illegal. Laaksonen then falls in love with the young lodger Veli (Lauri Tilkanen) him and his sister take in. This relationship instills confidence in Laaksonen and this is when his artistic talent starts to blossom.

Instead of getting sexier and more erotic, ‘Tom of Finland’ the film maintains its understated and muted tone. As Laaksonen’s work (who by now goes by the name Tom of Finland given to him by his Jewish publisher) becomes more well known around the world, he goes to Berlin and then is whisked away to Los Angeles at the behest of a rich gay patron (played by Seumas Sargent) where we get glances of men frolicking in a swimming pool but it’s not enough to warrant any sort of excitement in a film that should be releasing hormones right and left. Some of the supporting characters start getting sick but there’s no real mention of the words HIV or AIDS in the film and it’s this disease that hits his community hard, at a time when no one really knew how the virus was contracted. And with no timeline mentioned in the film it’s a bit difficult to know when these events took place to put the story into some sort of context.

Directed by Finnish Director Dome Karukoski and written by Aleksi Bardy, ‘Tom of Finland’ has, of course, a very Finnish feel to it (definitely foreign and a bit dull and grey), which may or may not have impacted the film’s lack of excitement and dramatic possibilities. But the cast are all very believable and Strang does a very good job of playing Laaksonen’s life over a span of 50 years (!!). But Laaksonen deserves a more fitting tribute. He was a seminal figure in gay culture, one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture, and ‘Tom of Finland’ the movie is not quite what I’d hoped it would be.

If you want real excitement, there is the Tom of Finland Organic Vodka to try – launched in the UK last month. Made in Finland from a blend of the finest organic wheat and rye with no added sugar, the vodka pays tribute to Tom of Finland through it’s smooth, spicy taste and flavor and it’s sexy packaging. The vodka was launched to coincide with the release of ‘Tom of Finland.’

The vodka is available now from select retailers including Gerry’s Wines and Spirits in Soho, London for an RRP of £32.50/50cl. I’ve tried it and it is superb.

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06th Aug2017

Evita (Theatre)

by timbaros

Gian Marco Schiaretti (Che) and Emma Hatton (Eva Perón) in Evita - Pamela Raith Photography (060)The classic musical ‘Evita’ has returned to the West End to mark the 65th anniversary of the death of Eva Perón, the woman who was revered in Argentina not only as the wife of that country’s President Juan Perón but also as a woman who was perhaps more powerful than her husband.

‘Evita’ takes us through the highs and many lows of Eva Perón. Played by Emma Hatton (‘Wicked’), ‘Evita’ begins somberly at her funeral, attendees dressed in black – and this sets the tone for the first 30 minutes of this show – dark, deep and depressing. With lyrics by Tim Rice and Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, ‘Evita’ finally finds it feet with the rise of Eva, which was her real name. She becomes as actress in Buenos Aires, but she had bigger ambitions, ambitions that would lead her to meet Juan Perón at a party she’s helped to organize to raise money for San Juan, Argentina, which was devastated by an earthquake. Juan, played by Kevin Stephen Jones, falls head over heals with Eva – he’s met his match – she’s just as strong and confident as he is. But it’s the public that takes to her – they love her and see her as a queen and perhaps more – perhaps as a leader for their country. But as history tells us, Eva Perón never got to see her 34th birthday, she died at the age of 33 in 1952, and ‘Evita’ the musical takes us through this journey, with the help of narrator Che (excellently played and sung by Gian Marc Schiaretti).

‘Evita’ is pure musical joy. There’s not one word in the show that is spoken – the plot is all told in song, and what great songs they are, 39 years after they were first written. This includes the lovely melodies of ‘I’d be Surprisingly good for you’ – when Evita initially meets Juan; to the rousing ‘A New Argentina;’ and the show-stopping ’On the Balcony of Casa Rosado’ where we see, in a breathtaking scene, Evita speaking (singing) to the crowd from the balcony of the palace; also the classic ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ where Eva sings in the hospital after her fatal diagnosis; and the fantastic and very memorable ‘And the Money Keeps Rolling In’ where Schiaretti really shines, and proves, that he is the true star of this show. As Che, he literally steals the spotlight from Hatton. Schiaretti is a regular concert performer and has performed throughout Europe and has played Tarzan on stage – ‘Evita’ will definitely raise his profile. The rest of the production is just fine, with an excellent supporting cast (especially Sarah O’Connor as the mistress of the President who Eva replaces, and holds her own in the solo number ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall.’) ‘Evita’ is only on for three months, so if you’ve never seen it before (this is third version I’ve seen, though I’m a bit too young to have seen the original version which made Elaine Paige a star in London and Patti Lupone a star in New York), I urge you to see it. While Hatton is very good, Schiaretti is amazing. And in this touring revival, directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright, is staged perfectly in the cozy Phoenix Theatre.

For tickets, please go to:

http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/phoenix-theatre/

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