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It’s always a good thing if a festival releases its programme and the first film on the list is one you’ve been wanting to see for a while.

Of course, that「ももいろそらを」 (Momoiro Sora o/About the Pink Sky, Japan, 2011) appears at the top of that list comes down to the fact that Raindance sorts its films alphabetically and Momoiro Sora o‘s English title so happens to being with the letter “A”.  But who cares: I’m thrilled either way.

Raindance’s programme release this morning marks what will be a few days of aficionados browsing extensive film lists, as the BFI is due to announce its selection for the London International Film Festival (LIFF) tomorrow. Unlike the LIFF, Raindance, which has existed since 1992, exclusively trades in independent productions and offers much wondrous fare. Most of these films are unlikely to ever see a wider theatrical release in the UK, so it’s best to see them now (i.e. Sept 26 to Oct 7, 2012) or never.

As in previous years, Raindance has a Japanese strand (though it does not seem to be specifically named in the press release).

Note: Click on title to access the film’s page on the Raindance website. Links to trailers have also been provided where available.

  • 「ももいろそらを」 (Momoiro Sora o/About the Pink Sky, Japan, 2011) – {Trailer} – I originally took notice of this film when it screened at Sundance and thought I had included it in a Trailer Weekly too, but it seems not. Never mind, I’m excited to see it on the Raindance programme and will definitely go to watch this. In Kobayashi Keiichi’s feature film high school student Izumi finds a wallet full of cash and rather than returning it immediately to its owner, lends some of the money to an acquaintance, with consequences. It’s a lightly humorous coming-of-age story and “a philosophical exploration of human values and the need for happiness” (LAAFF). Shot in black & white with a minimalist story and naturalistic style it seems to have inspired some (re)viewers and bored others. I’ve got a high tolerance for slow films, so I’m ignoring the naysayers.

  • 「放課後ミッドナイターズ」 (Hōkago Midnighters/After School Midnighters, Japan, 2012) – {Trailer} – If you can’t make it to Scotland Loves Anime, here is your other option for seeing this animated slapstick comedy, which I previously mentioned in my SLA post. Kunstlijk, an anatomical model whose name means ‘artificial’ or ‘art corpse’, comes to life after midnight, wreaking havoc in an elite elementary school. UPDATE: REVIEW on Otherwhere.
  • 「佐渡テンペスト」  (Sado Tempest/ArashiJapan/UK/Hong Kong) – No, it’s not a film about Matsujun & co, but a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the form of a futuristic musical set on a Japanese island. It is directed by John Williams, the most celebrated British director making films in Japan, and features J-rock, Noh masks and a landscape of volcanoes on Sado Island, which, frankly, sounds plain awesome. In addition to attending the film’s international premiere, you can also listen to the director talk about Sado Tempest in an event organised by the Japan Foundation on September 27th. Details here.

  • Don’t Dare to Stop Love (Japan, 2012) – Directed by Oguchi Yoko. This is the sort of thing that happens at festivals like Raindance: there are always some films so off the well-beaten track that you can’t find anything about them on the net. All I know about Don’t Dare to Stop Love at this point is that “An anti-social, god-fearing woman scrapes through life under the delusion that she can hear God’s voice. Then, one day, she comes across a young man at a bar…” (quoting directly from the Raindance website here). When I find out more, I’ll update – including if I figure out what the original title is.
  • 「オロ」 (Oro/OLO – The Boy From Tibet, Japan, 2012) – {Trailer}– A documentary that is set to screen at the UNHRC Refugee Film Festival in Japan in early October tells the story of Olo, a boy who fled Tibet on his own when only six years old. Now he lives in a camp in Dharamsala, northern India, and ponders why his mother pushed him to leave his homeland.
  • あかい きせつ」 (Akai Kisetsu/A Road Stained Crimson, Japan, 2012) – {Trailer} – In Akai Kisetsu (I’m for once tempted to use the English title which is just lovely) two ex-assassins try to straighten out their lives, their past however soon coming to haunt them. It’s classified as ‘action drama’, looks bloody and violent and yet… it gives me somewhat a vibe similar to that of 보트 / 「ノーボーイズ、ノークライ(Boteu/Boat aka No Boys, No Cry, Korea/Japan, 2009) – like there is more than guns and slaughter here. I do think it will be a hell lot darker than Boteu, but with a human heart and soul beating somewhere deep within.

The full list of feature-length films is available here.

Nothing Korean on the programme as far as I can see, but we can still hold out for the shorts section, which will be unveiled on September 7th, 2012.

Also look forward to my Raindance Post Part 2: Personal Recommendations, with some reviews to follow for several films I had the chance to preview.