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Indie fest, awards liven London pitstop

Raindance and BIFA to accompany Screenings again

HOLLYWOOD — Blighty’s freewheeling indie film fest, Raindance, and the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) have become steady companion to the London Screenings. It all started in 1993, when fest director Elliot Grove, a Canuck expat, noticed a void in Brit fest programming.”There was none of the indigenous, indie-style New York stuff,” says Grove, noting that the U.K.’s leading fests, such as Edinburgh and London, featured mostly world cinema and bigger American fare. “So we showed films like ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,’ ‘Love & Human Remains,’ and ’32 Short Films About Glenn Gould.'”‘Ghost’ to RaindanceThis year’s edition (Oct. 17-26) is set to unspool 61 features and kicks off with the London preem of Terry Zwigoff’s “Ghost World.” Among the special events, helmer Shekhar Kapur (“Elizabeth”) will be the subject of the Alexander Mackendrick Lecture, and Mike Figgis will lead a two-day master class on digital filmmaking. Fest also launches a new sidebar, Raindance East, a selection of new Asian features and British-Asian shorts.In its fourth year, the popular BIFA ceremony, honoring the year’s best Brit indie talents, will take place Oct. 26 at London’s Park Lane Hotel, instead of at longtime BIFA home Cafe Royal. Much like IFP/West’s annual Independent Spirit Awards, held in Los Angeles on Oscar weekend, BIFA is a relaxed but feisty gathering of indie greats who are prone to hijinx. Expect producer Nik Powell to show up in jeans and one of his legendary loud dinner jackets; and prepare yourself for sudden skirmishes — actor-director Peter Mullan picked a fight a few years ago when someone booed Ken Loach as he received an award.”The event is meant to be raw and ragged,” says Grove, who’s still embarrassed by the technical gaffes that marked last year’s show. “But it’s a damn good party and you get to meet people you might only ever speak to on the phone.” Presenter this year is Brit TV personality and comic Dermot O’Leary.

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