Raindance line-up announced

May 21, 2024

For the 32nd edition of the Raindance Film Festival, the UK’s leading indie film festival is moving up the festival calendar.

Migrating away from the autumn, this transitional edition sees Raindance occupy a new midsummer slot with all the brilliance and lustre that the summer season commands. Running 19 – 28 June, host cinemas are Curzon Mayfair, Curzon Soho, and The Prince Charles Cinema in central London, and Genesis Cinema in east London. The House of Raindance industry hub and the Raindance Immersive Summit (18 – 19 June) will once again be hosted at Wonderville on Haymarket. The 9th Raindance Immersive runs in VRChat 1 – 30 June.

Raindance basks in the radiance of summer with a programme of relevant, radical, and glorious premieres of must-see features and documentaries. An advocate of new and vibrant voices, this year’s selection prioritises the work of first and second-time filmmakers like never before. This year, 90% of the films screening in competition are debut features, re-enforcing the Raindance mantra as a place to discover and be discovered.

“Raindance is known as a festival of discovery,” says Raindance founder Elliot Grove. “Ever since Raindance launched back in 1993, year after year Raindance has developed a reputation as the place to discover and be discovered. With our newly determined and defined focus on first and second-time filmmakers, we continue our campaign of championing new voices and the edgy, under-the-radar films that we at Raindance love so much. Come and join our midsummer celebration of the very best new indie cinema and see what you discover. All we are saying is give film a chance.”

Raindance Film Festival Artistic Directors Martyna Szmytkowska and Malaika Bova add “In our second year as Artistic Directors, we continue with the mission that we began last year: to confirm Raindance as the leading UK platform for emerging filmmakers. As part of this effort, we have reshaped the film programme, the awards system, and the industry sessions – altogether tailoring Raindance to the needs of first and second-time filmmakers.”


Following its World Premiere at the 74th Berlin International Film Festival and festival screenings including SXSW, the 32nd Raindance Film Festival opens 19 June with the UK Premiere of Tilman Singer’s second feature CUCKOO (dir: Tilman Singer, Germany/USA). This bold twist on the final girl trope stars Hunter Schafer (The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, Euphoria) as a 17-year-old who is forced to leave her American home to live with her father and his new family as they move to a resort in the German Alps, and Dan Stevens (The Guest, Downton Abbey) as the resort’s mysterious boss. Including Q&A with director Tilman Singer.


The festival closes 28 June with the European Premiere of NATIONAL ANTHEM (dir: Luke Gilford, USA). A highlight from Toronto film festival and SXSW, this love story and a western for a new world stars Charlie Plummer (BIFA nominated Best Actor for Lean On Pete) as a young construction worker who joins a community of queer rodeo performers in New Mexico, each in search of their own version of the American dream. The debut feature by filmmaker and photographer Luke Gilford follows on from his acclaimed 2020 photography monograph National Anthem, comprising images of America’s queer rodeo subculture. He previously directed the short film Connected with Pamela Anderson and Jane Fonda, and music videos for Troye Sivan, Kesha, Blood Orange, and Susanne Sundfør. Along with a wild West End closing party, it’s a perfect forerunner for the Pride In London weekend.


As announced during the 74th Berlin International Film Festival, Raindance is delighted to welcome Germany as this year’s Guest of Honour. This is a significant year for German Films, as they are celebrating their 70th anniversary in 2024. German Films want to use this anniversary to place a special focus on seventy years of German cinema abroad. German Films have joined forces with Raindance to present a new wave of German cinema achievements and to showcase exceptional German talent worldwide. Films presented at Raindance as part of this special focus include opening gala Cuckoo plus key festival titles Eternal You, Falling Into Place, It’s Burning, What You See Of Me (more details below).

A dedicated Shorts Programme will further showcase the vision, ambition, and daring of German filmmakers. Special sessions during Raindance’s Industry Programme will champion Germany’s film industry. This includes a panel with Mona Cathleen Otterbach, a production designer and ambassador of this year’s Face To Face With German Films campaign.

As part of the ’70 Years Of German Cinema – A Success Story’ retrospective is a special screening of THE WHITE RIBBON (dir: Michael Haneke, Germany / Austria / France / Italy / Canada). This acclaimed Oscar® nominated and Palme d’Or winning feature from 2009 tells of the strange events that happen in a small village in the north of Germany in the years before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. Who is responsible? Before the screening will be a masterclass with German actor Christian Friedel, discussing his role in this and other films including the recent Oscar® winner The Zone Of Interest in a conversation led by Sandra Hebron (Head of Screen Arts at NFTS, and former Artistic Director of the London Film Festival).


For the second year, the festival’s lead sponsor is MangoRX, creator of a new mango-flavoured rapid-dissolving orange tablet that hits the bloodstream quicker for faster results to combat ED (erectile dysfunction), and by doing so promotes good sexual and mental health. Other festival partners this year include FIJI Water, TooFar Media, Artists For Change.


>> DISCOVERY: maverick features by debut directors

ARNI (dir: Dorka Vermes, Hungary) UK Premiere. Debut feature. A lonely outsider working for a travelling circus, Árni’s days revolve around feeding the animals and doing odd jobs. When the circus gets a new python, the creature piques Árni’s curiosity. This bleak, visually rich feature was one of four selected for the 11th edition of Biennale College Cinema, and was nominated for the Queer Lion.

CAT CALL (dir: Rozália Szelenczki, Hungary) UK PremiereDebut feature. Trapped in a world of her own imagination, a woman can never fall in love because she pictures the death of each man she finds attractive. But everything changes when a talking cat starts courting her.

FALLING INTO PLACE (dir: Aylin Tezel, UK/Germany) London Premiere. Debut feature. German actress-turned-director Aylin Tezel makes her directorial debut and stars opposite Chris Fulton (Outlaw King, Bridgerton, The Witcher) in this arthouse rom-com set in Scotland and London over a brief winter weekend. 606 Distribution are set to release the film in the UK later this year.

IT’S BURNING (dir: Erol Afsin, Germany) UK Premiere. Debut feature. In this hard-hitting German-set tale of hate crime, an Arab family encounter a man in a playground, where things unfortunately escalate when he attacks the mother due to her headscarf. This leads to a court case, where everything changes.

NATIONAL ANTHEM (dir: Luke Gilford, USA) European Premiere. Debut feature. Closing gala.

SATU – YEAR OF THE RABBIT (dir: Josh Trigg, UK) World Premiere. Debut feature. Set in Laos and featuring local actors, this sumptuously shot coming-of-age film follows an orphan child labourer on a journey in search of his long-lost mother.

SISTERHOOD (dir: Nora el Hourch, France) UK Premiere. Debut feature. Three inseparable teenage girls attract public outcry after they post a video on social media identifying the assailant who attacked one of them. This potent coming-of-age drama explores issues including class division and feminism.

SLEEP (dir: Jason Yu, South Korea) London Premiere. Debut feature. The final film role for acclaimed Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun (Parasite, A Hard Day), starring alongside award-winning actress Jung Yu-mi (Train to Busan, Kim Ji-young: Born 1982) playing a young expectant wife who must figure out how to stop her husband’s nightmarish sleepwalking habits before he harms himself or his family.

THE HEIRLOOM (dir: Ben Petrie, Canada) UK Premiere. Debut feature. Having wrote, directed, and performed in the acclaimed short Her Friend Adam, and appeared in indie films including BlackBerry and Tito, Ben Petrie directs his first feature: the simple and quirky tale of a desperate filmmaker, seized by inspiration when he and his girlfriend adopt a traumatized rescue dog. Petrie also co-stars along with his regular collaborator Grace Glowicki.

THE QUIET MAID (dir: Miguel Faus, Spain) UK Premiere. Debut feature. In this cathartic Spanish thriller, a young Colombian woman works as a maid for a wealthy, privileged and difficult family. She is quiet and discreet, as she was told, until she sees a way to take revenge.

>> INTERNATIONAL: must-see titles selected from around the world

ANIMAL (dir: Sofia Exarchou, Greece) UK Premiere. Second feature. A multi-award winner at Thessaloniki film festival, it portrays a group of performers as they spend an increasingly wild summer working at a busy all-inclusive island resort under the hot Greek sun.

BODY ODYSSEY (dir: Grazia Tricarico, Italy/Switzerland) UK Premiere. Debut feature. Co-starring Julian Sands in his final filmit follows a female bodybuilder who is obsessed by an ideal of perfection and beauty. As she trains for a world championship, her coach monitors every detail of her disciplined daily actions.

CUCKOO (dir: Tilman Singer, Germany/USA) UK Premiere. Second feature. Opening gala.

DON’T HANG UP (dir: Manfredi Lucibello, Italy) International Premiere. Debut feature. Receiving an unexpected and confusing phone call from an ex-boyfriend whom she hasn’t heard from since their breakup, a woman sets off in her car, hoping to reach him in time – without ever hanging up the phone.

ENDLESS SUMMER SYNDROME (dir: Kaveh Daneshmand, Czech Republic) UK Premiere. Debut feature. Nominated for Best First Feature at Tallinn Black Nights, in this French-set thriller a mother’s sense of duty takes a macabre turn when she learns that her husband may be having an affair with one of their two adopted kids.

KATHLEEN IS HERE (dir: Eva Birthistle, Ireland) World Premiere. Debut feature. Acclaimed actress Eva Birthistle (Ae Fond Kiss, Brooklyn) expands on her award-winning short Kathleen Was Here by directing this tale that depicts the ongoing problems surrounding young adults who age out of care.

MY KILLER BUDDY (dir: Gianluca Santoni, Italy) International Premiere. Debut feature. A boy cultivates the idea of finding a paid killer to save his mother from his father’s violence – so he approaches a local petty criminal in this original and touching tale of domestic violence told from a child’s perspective.

THE STRANGERS’ CASE (dir: Brandt Anderson, Jordan) UK Premiere. Debut feature. Tragedy strikes a Syrian family in Aleppo, starting a chain reaction of events involving five different families in four different countries. Winner of the Amnesty International Film Prize at Berlin, it’s a familiar yet sadly topical story told from numerous perspectives by a cast including César-winning actor Omar Sy (Untouchable, Chocolat, Lupin) in roles such as refugee, doctor, people smuggler, coast guard.

WHAT YOU SEE OF ME (dir: Isabelle Caps-Kuhn, Germany) World Premiere. Debut feature. A couple stumble into an open relationship. But the light-hearted experiment gradually turns into a flurry of jealousy and unforeseen feelings.

> DOCUMENTARIES: powerful and relevant narratives.


AVANT-DRAG! (dir: Fil Ieropoulos, Greece) UK Premiere. Second feature. Following its special jury award-winning world premiere at Thessaloniki, this visually vibrant tale follows ten drag performers in Athens, finding solace in each other as they rebel against their oppressive reality.

ETERNAL YOU (dir: Hans Block & Moritz Rieseviek, Germany/USA) London Premiere. Second feature. Questioning the consequences of commodifying the human desire for immortality, this challenging documentary spotlights tech start-ups that are using AI to create avatars that allow people to talk with their loved ones after death.

FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS (dir: Javier Horcajada Fontecha, Spain) World Premiere. Second feature. A chilling exploration of gun culture in the United States, told from the perspective of the most extreme, wild and crazy advocates for gun ownership via a precisely curated selection of YouTube videos.

MOGWAI: IF THE STARS HAD A SOUND (dir: Antony Crook, UK) London Premiere. Debut feature. Documenting 25 years of this cult Scottish post-rock band, as they stay true to their roots and follow their own path.

SEARCHING FOR AMANI (dir: Debra Aroko & Nicole Gormley, Kenya/USA) European Premiere. Debut feature. In search of truth and redemption, a 13-year-old boy investigates his father’s tragic murder within the boundaries of one of Kenya’s largest wildlife conservancies.

SMILING GEORGIA (dir: Luka Beradze, Georgia) UK Premiere. Debut feature. This poetic and bitterly humorous documentary probes Georgia’s 2012 election campaign by the governing party, who promised its country’s poorest citizens new teeth in exchange for their vote.

STING LIKE A BEE (dir: LEONE, Italy) UK Premiere. Debut feature. Evoking the summer days of adolescence, this visually sumptuous coming-of-age tale explores the romantic dynamics of a group of teenagers in a small southern Italian town, who also share a love of the iconic Piaggio Ape. Featuring a soundtrack by jazz pianist Ze in the Clouds.

THE CLICK TRAP (dir: Peter Porta, France/Spain) UK Premiere. Debut feature. Raising ethical concerns about democracy and online capitalism, this slick documentary spotlights major tech firms who claim to restrict disinformation – yet still profit from harmful content whenever we click.

THE CONTESTANT (dir: Clair Titley, UK) London Premiere. Debut feature. The astonishing story of Tomoaki Hamatsu, who featured in a controversial Japanese reality TV show that saw him left naked and alone in a room for more than a year, tasked with entering magazine sweepstakes to win food and essentials to survive – becoming a famous TV star though the days of sufferance he endured.

THE MAN WITH 1000 FACES (dir: Sonia Kronlund, France/Poland) International Premiere. Second feature. A first-person investigation of a man who goes by different names, who calls himself a surgeon or an engineer, Argentinian or Brazilian, and lives with four different women – adapting his story and even his personality traits to each of his different and fraudulent faces.


Raindance is an Oscar-qualifying festival. The recipient of Raindance’s Best Live Action Short, Best Animation Short, and Best Documentary Short are eligible for consideration in the three Short Films categories of the Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run (provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules).

Highlights include DANGEROUS ROMANCE (dir: Daisy Jacobs, UK). A Raindance Alumni, whose previous short The Bigger Picture won a BAFTA and was Oscar-nominated, this new short portrays a 50-something woman who is addicted to romantic novels, lost in dreams of wild sex and rescue, and whose days fly by, unseized, unlived. Starring Ben Whishaw alongside a cast including Marion Bailey and Dino Fetscher, GOOD BOY (dir: Tom Stuart, UK) follows out-of-money and out-of-luck Danny as he attempts to rob a bank with his overbearing mum, but is scuppered by figures from his past. Starring Riz Ahmed, DAMMI (dir: Yann Mounir Demange, France) follows a man who travels back to Paris to reconnect with his estranged father, where he’s forced to face his fears and guilt while also reclaiming his lost Arab identity. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, THE MASTERPIECE (dir: Alex Lora, Spain) sees a rich couple bring a broken TV to a recycle point where they encounter two scrap dealers. Animated short [S] (dir: Mario Radev, UK) is an artwork that exposes the lifespan of infinity, reflecting on the entangled nature of life and art. A further short by a Raindance Alumni, AREA BOY (dir: Iggy London, UK) portrays an aimless teenager who has moved to the outer edges of a provincial town with his mother. As he settles in, he tries to escape the bleakness of life and navigate questions of self-identity. This year there’ll also be a selection by Guest Programmer Mania Akbari, the regarded Iranian filmmaker, artist, writer, and film curator, known for films including Venice Film Festival award winner 20 Fingers and CPH:DOX award winner A Moon For My Father.

Altogether there are nine short film programmes: Animated Display, Body Security & Home (Mania Akbari Guest Programme), Documented People, German Programme: Next Generation Short Tiger 2024, Gone Astray, Lost Ventures, Nova Express, Relative States, UK Shorts.


The Raindance Film Festival jury awards honour features by emerging filmmakers in five categories: Discovery Award for Debut Feature, Best International Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Debut Director, Best Performance in a Debut Feature.

Raindance further honours shorts in four categories: Best UK Short, Best Live Action Short, Best Animation Short, Best Documentary Short.

This year’s jury: Alice Englert (actor: Bad Behaviour, You Won’t Be Alone, Ginger & Rose), Claes Bang (actor: The Square, The Northman, William Tell), Diego Luna (actor: Y tu mamá también, Rogue One, Milk), Jared Harris (actor: Chernobyl, The Terror, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), John McCrea (actor: Cruella, Femme, Dracula), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (actor: Femme, Candyman, Culprits), Al Morrow (producer: The Reason I Jump, Heavy Load, The Enfield Poltergeist), Daniel Green (Distribution Operations Director, Global at MUBI), Emilie Szemraj (Creative Executive, Acquisitions and Development at Protagonist), Ivana MacKinnon (producer: How To Have Sex, Slumdog Millionaire, The Descent), Joanne Michael (Head of Marketing and Distribution at Cornerstone), Katie Bignell (Founder & Festival Strategist, Festival Formula), Nafi Gordon-Sy (Head of Home Entertainment at Dogwoof), Paul Sng (director: Tish, Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché).

THE FOUNDERS’ STRAND: in consideration for the ‘Spirit of Raindance’ award

DOG WAR (dir: Andrew Abrahams, USA) World Premiere. In this thought-provoking documentary, a team of animal-loving combat veterans infiltrate the dog meat farms and markets of South Korea to save as many dogs as possible.

DOUBLE EXPOSURE (dir: Howard Goldberg, USA) World Premiere. The past and present mysteriously collide as a struggling artist grapples with guilt over what happened to his first true love.

HUMANE (dir: Caitlin Cronenberg, USA) European Premiere. In the wake of an environmental collapse that is forcing humanity to shed 20% of its population, a family dinner erupts into chaos when a father’s plan to enlist in the government’s new euthanasia program goes awry. This provocative indie horror/thriller is the feature debut from the daughter of David Cronenberg.

I’M STILL HERE (dir: Elizabeth Healey & Franc Vissers, UK) London Premiere. Documenting the Covid pandemic in 2020, when those left abandoned on London’s streets are given a voice, and the actions of emerging community organisation Under One Sky highlights the power of human connection.

PEAKY BLINDERS (dir: Benoit-Swan Pouffer, UK) Having begun its life on TV, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight reimagined it as a dance theatre show, directed and choreographed by Rambert’s artistic director Benoit-Swan Pouffer – which has now inspired this film iteration.

SHARI AND LAMB CHOP (dir: Lisa D’Apolito, USA) International Premiere. This heartfelt and entertaining doc charts the life loves, and career hits and misses of children’s television pioneer Shari Lewis – the ventriloquist behind sock puppets Charlie Horse, Hush Puppy and, of course, Lamb Chop.

SOMETHING’S MORE THAN ONE THING (dir: Jay Alvarez, USA). World Premiere. A young couple go down a rabbit hole of conflicting internet advice in order to save their relationship, in this comedy drama with a cast including Alex Sgambati, Soko, and James Scully.


This year’s Raindance Industry Sessions will be a collection of workshops, panels and masterclasses hosted at the House of Raindance (Wonderville, Haymarket). Echoing the festival’s newly refined focus on first and second-time filmmakers, all panels and talks will this year be aimed at emerging filmmakers. The programme has been carefully crafted to provide emerging filmmakers with the tools they need to navigate the industry.

Highlights include BIFA SPRINGBOARD, a panel with select members of their 2024 cohort including Lorine Plagnol and Savannah James-Bayly, as well as graduates of their previous cohorts. A SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION panel incorporates BAFTA Albert, Film London, and sustainability consultants Green Eyes Production. There’ll also be panels with case studies on funding of first and second films, across fiction and documentary as well as shorts, with participants including BFI Network, Doc Society, The Whickers; and panels with leading sales and distribution companies demystifying their process for emerging filmmakers.

RAINDANCE IMMERSIVE (Immersive Summit at Wonderville: 18 – 19 June / Immersive Showcase at Raindance HQ: 21 – 23 June / online festival in VRChat: 1 – 30 June)

For the ninth consecutive year, Raindance is celebrating all independent XR creators, game designers, virtual world builders and performers with the vanguard Raindance Immersive programme. This year’s selection is a mix of World Premieres and special first-look previews spanning immersive storytelling, games, filmmaking, immersive world building, live shows, music and dance performances, as well as exclusive guided tours by world builders. For the second year, the programme also acknowledges the fledging filmmaking community that’s developing within social VR platform VRChat with a programme of short films and music videos made entirely in VRChat.

Raindance Immersive is curated by Mária Rakušanová, Joanna Leigh, Mary Lee Desmond and Tropi Ginger with short films and music videos made in VRChat curated by Joe Hunting (whose Sundance and CPH:DOX nominated documentary We Met in Virtual Reality was filmed entirely in VRChat). This year the in-person Raindance Immersive Summit runs in London 18 – 19 June, with highlights including filmmaking and spatial game development for the Apple Vision Pro, discussing how XR creators, filmmakers and game developers utilise this new platform. The virtual festival will run 1 – 30 June. The nominated immersive experiences, games, virtual worlds, live performances, short films, and music videos compete for 8 awards.

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