Raindance founder Elliot Grove likes to recall that in the early days of the festival there was no waste. “We showed absolutely everything,” he recalls, “and now we show practically nothing of what is submitted!” Which is why he is particularly proud of the shorts programme: split into seven parts and culled from over 4,000 submissions, it features the UK Premiere of Szymon Kapeniak’s “Moloch” (Poland/Ukraine) plus the European Premiere of Thomas Leisten Schneider’s “Point and Shoot” (USA/UK), starring Donald Sutherland. The International Shorts Programmes 1, 2 and 3 screen back to back from 1pm on Saturday September 23, followed by Documentary shorts at 8.30pm. The following day, again starting at 1pm, sees the Animation, UK, European and Music Video shorts screening, all at Vue Piccadilly 4 in Leicester Square.
Also recommended by Grove is a film that blurs the boundaries between narrative and documentary: Stephen Elliott’s B&W feature “After Adderal”, which premieres on Saturday September 24 at 1.15pm at Vue Piccadilly 5. Posing the question, “What if James Franco made a movie about your life?” the film explores the difference between memoir and life by recounting the process by which Elliott’s autobiographical 2009 book “The Adderall Diaries” – named after the well-known anti-depressants of the same name – was optioned by James Franco, one of 15 films that the prolific writer-actor-director-producer put his name to last year alone. Initially flattered by Franco’s advances, Elliott begins to find that the reality of filmmaking is a not as glamorous as he first thought. Says Grove: “It struck me as being a very, very innovative and entertaining film, without any hint of any of the problems we face in the world eight now – except our addiction to antidepressants! A welcome relief. It’s not political.”
Another of Grove’s personal highlights, in keeping with the social conscience theme begun with Raindance opener “Problemski Hotel”, is a documentary about the impact of human waste on the environment. “To highlight a problem our programmers have,” says Grove, “how many films about plastic in the ocean do you need to show at a film festival? We chose one – The Plastic Ocean – a documentary about the horrors of what we’re doing to our environment.”
A UK/Hong Kong/USA production directed by Craig Leeson and produced by Jo Buxton, the film – which screens today, Thursday September 22, at 3.15pm – follows a team of researchers and adventurers who set out to observe blue whales but find their dives impeded by the level of plastic pollution in the ocean.
Says Grove: “The first three-quarters of the movie are so depressing, but the last 20 minutes get you out of depression and into hope: what can you do to change that? It makes you feel better, and films like this help change people’s lives.”