Raindance Film Festival 2011 - Reviews!

The Weight of Chains, Stranger Things and The Cameramurderer are all showing in London in the next couple of weeks. Here's why you should go see them.

Sep 26 2011, 3:45pm

If you're into film – and let's face it: if you weren't, you probably wouldn't be reading this bit of the internet – then you should head down to the Raindance Film Festival later this week. The annual bonanza of new independent cinema returns to London this Wednesday, the 28th of September, and runs until next Sunday, October 9th.

The bill promises to deliver in both quantity and quality, featuring over 90 UK premieres from 36 different countries and more than a ton of shorts, among them Mike Cahill's Sundance-wowing Another Earth and Christian Jimenez' Bonsai, a film that furthers the idea that Chile is a nation in love with the concept of the 'slacker romance'.

To celebrate our partnership with the festival – of which you can learn more about here – we'll be shining a light on some of the lesser known but no less worthy feature films screening at Raindance over the next fortnight. In the first instalment, we review revelatory Yugoslavian war doc The Weight of Chains, Hungary's engrossing The Cameramurderer and Stranger Things, which stars Adeel Akhbar, one of the terrorist guys from Four Lions.

The Weight of Chains
Directed by Boris Malagurski
Screening: Friday, 7th of October, 2PM; at Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly Circus. £5 per ticket.
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Boris Malagurski's The Weight of Chains is a sardonic look at how US foreign policy brought about the demise of Yugoslavia in the late 80s. It begins by showing the audience how Yugoslavia used to be a relatively prosperous and peaceful Socialist state, and then how, after the intervention of Ronald Reagan and the World Bank, it turned into an impoverished nightmare land riddled with ethnic in-fighting. Experts tell grim stories about how fractured groups of people were exploited by power-hungry domestic leaders. Soon Yugoslavia is in the grip of one of history's most heartbreaking periods of civil war and ethnic cleansing.

Elegantly edited, the documentary employs archival footage accompanied by Malagurski's own, satirical voiceover. This makes the whole documentary feel like a history lesson as relayed by an endearing teacher with an average sense of humour. (That's understandable; ethnic cleansing and systematic rape aren't exactly Lulz City.) To learn about how the US encouraged Serbs and Bosnian Muslims to hate each other, buy your tickets now.

The Cameramurderer
Directed by Robert Adrian-Pejo
Screening: Tuesday, 4th of October, 2PM; at Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly Circus. £5 per ticket.
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So, here we have Hungary's answer to the 'whodunnit?' The Cameramurderer looks beautiful and the acting's pretty good, even if the thinness of the plot does start to show around the halfway point. The story is a pretty straightforward one; one couple visits another couple at their home on an island, where three local kids have recently gone missing. As is the wont of evil people in films, the person who's been making the children disappear has been filming their exploits on a camera, and it quickly becomes clear that it's one of the four lead characters – but which one?

They and you will find out eventually; as per whodunnit? rules, no one's allowed to leave the island. A beautifully-shot, if not always beautifully-framed, story, The Cameramurderer will reward those in search of an engrossing and occasionally savage slice of tension.

Stranger Things
Directed by Eleanor Burke and Ron Eyal
Screening: Friday, 7th of October, 9PM, and Saturday, 8th of October, 10AM; at Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly Circus. £10 per ticket.
(More details)

Emotional drama Stranger Things is so confidently-paced that it doesn't feel like a directorial team's first crack at a feature-length picture. Burke and Eyal's skeleton crew of four actors are about as chatty as Harold Pinter on a comedown, explained, perhaps, by the fact that one of them is a spiritually disturbed vagrant called Mani (Four Lions' Adeel Akhbar), and another is Oona; a frightened woman in her thirties whose mum has just died.

Mani meets Oona when he seeks shelter in the house her mother has just died in, and their relationship unfurls (very, very slowly) from there. The film covers so little tangible ground (it's a movie of implications rather than events) that it's hard not to give too much away in this preview, but Stranger Things works as a thoughtful examination of loneliness and abandonment, rewarding those who'll give it their full and focused concentration.

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