Being a film buff can be difficult. Most of new releases that greet our screens disappoint and far too often are simply a waste of time.
That's why events such as Raindance Film Festival are so eagerly anticipated by so many of us. Independent cinema simply has a lot more heart and honesty than many of the big productions can hope for. Three movies into this year's programme and I can honestly say that thus far I have not been disappointed.
The festival kicked off with a fantastic documentary from Matthew Cooke. How to Make Money Selling Drugs not only has a provoking title but manages to cleverly portray how and why the drug war, which started in the United States in the 70s, has failed on all fronts. Featuring interviews with David Simon (the creator of The Wire), Eminem, 50 Cent, Arianna Huffington, Susan Sarandon, as well as a handful of drug kingpins and police officers, the film introduces us to the realities of the drug trade from both ends of the spectrum. From the supplier to the consumer, we are given a close-up view of each link in that chain. This film is as informative, as it is entertaining. I do hope that it receives enough support to warrant a general release it truly deserves.
Following the great opening gala my expectations were high and they were thoroughly met in the form of Earthbound. A funny and touching sci-fi flick with a good dose of romantic comedy. The main character, Joel (Rafe Spall), believes he's an alien and tries to break the news to his new girlfriend, Mary (Jenn Murray). A great premise for an entertaining movie, written and directed by Alan Brennan, who manages to make the most of a small budget. David Morrisey liked this project so much that he agreed to play Joel's dad - now that's a scoop for any director.
And then onto the feature number three,Soul Flower Train. A truly heartfelt tale from Japan, about a father who travels from a small town to Osaka to visit his daughter, only to discover that her life has moved in a very unexpected direction. On the way to Osaka he picks up a nickname "Gramps" form a larger than life trickster and thus his real name is never actually revealed to us. A chance meeting with young Akane,who insists on being his guide in the strange city ultimately leads Gramps to the shocking discovery involving his child. Hiroshi Nishio, the writer and director, deals with the often difficult father daughter - relationship with an amazing sensitivity, never preaching or patronising either side.
Judging by my first three films I think I can safely assume that all of the Raindance lineup this year is going to be very strong. The festival goes on until Sunday, 6th October and tickets are still available for most screenings, so make sure to take this opportunity to experience independent cinema at its best.