Category Archives: Raindance 2012

Global Home by Eva Stotz (2012) #rdff

I love a good documentary, I love travelling and I love German cinema. I used to Couchsurf and I had an opportunity of watching this film with a visiting Couchsurfer sitting next to me. Perfect conditions for a documentary about the phenomenon of Couchsurfing one would say.

Unfortunately for the film makers of Global Home, both myself and my friend have a sense for film. I write and critique, my friend composes music and soundtrack.

Usually the above paragraph would never have made it to the review. But this seems necessary this time given we did not manage to watch this film. My friend fell asleep 15 minutes into it, whereas I gave it a full 40 minutes and gave up.

I always give a film 20 minutes and then decide if I will watch it in full or leave the cinema/switch it off. I was full of hopes for this one and gave it 40 minutes. As an exception. Because of the topic, because I love documentaries, because I love German cinema.

The good sides of this film are: topic (it’s about Couchsurfing!), cinematography (nice colouring, lighting).

The rest is hard to describe.

The unbearable voiceover motioned in the style of a 3-year old recounting a holiday to their 90-year old grandma. Surely this is not a film intended for Couchsurfers. Although the idea sounds entertaining at first, although the characters selected for interviews are great personalities – this film is unwatchable and insanely boring. It is  long paced, has no atmosphere I expected it to have and although it is against my general rule to overly criticise a piece of work such as this, which required effort, funding and certainly a lot of planning, I cannot begin to describe how much this one is a failure on all fronts. Stay away! Save your time, respect yourselves.

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Love Tomorrow by Christopher Payne (2010) #rdff

Winner of the UK Feature section at Raindance 2012.

This is yet another ballet themed film at Raindance. Two dancers meet at the tube escalators and what seems to be a reactivation of a previous acquaintance, it turns out they had never met before. They spend the night together – in the Linklater’s sense of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset – walking around London, talking, or not, sometimes dancing, drinking, exploring the outside world through each other’s eyes.

Supposedly it is a non-mainstream love story. Supposedly it is a fake love story without a happy ending. Supposedly it is a warm tale making us believe in humans again.

It is nicely photographed, craftily lit and London always looks stunning in October, the duo surely knows how to dance.  I liked the costumes.

Would a ballet dancer riding a bike to the audition throw in two bricks into his backpack? Just a thought.

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StringCaesar by Paul Schoolman (2010) #rdff

Where the depth of this project begins and ends is incredibly hard to establish. Schoolman has achieved results that cannot be compared to anything done in the resocialization of prison history.
Schoolman entered three prisons as distant as South Africa, Canada and the UK. There, he worked with the inmates on recreating the life of Julius Caesar between the ages of 14 and 33.

The project is fascinating not only because of how it has been created but also with the merit it delivers.
There are a few actors (only 10% of the whole cast) such as Derek Jacobi, Alice Krige and the main Warren Adler playing Caesar. But the main corps cosists of prisoners.

The fascinating story changed the lives of the inmates and apparently noone before did drama workshops in prisons.

All in all the film should be admired for not only the idea of making it in prison, but also for the story that Schoolman took on board. This is not Shakespeare’s Caesar. This is Caesar as presented in historical sources. The dialogues, the songs, the majority of the text has been created by the inmates involved in the project.
The result is stunning for its theatricality – remember prison has a very limited amount of space, for its drama, for the involvement of all who took part.
Amazing, incredible watch delivering a proper old Greek classic catharsis for the viewer. A must see.

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Culture Shock by Steve Balderson (2012) #rdff

Lightweight comedy bringing to mind Scooby Doo group of teenage friends solving criminal mysteries.

Four twenty-something Americans are forced by their parents to visit Europe ‘as adults’. That means they have to deal with issues by themselves rather than ring parents for help, who refuse to pick up their calls.

Realised in a true indie spirit – most of the film was shot on a handheld digital camera. A list of thankyous is quite long – mainly to locations. Apparently the cost of the film did not exceed £3000. And yet, it is a nice dose of entertainment.

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Ballroom Dancer by Christian Bonke, Andreas Koefoed (2011) #rdff

How often does a documentary watch like a love story? Not that often in my experience.

This is a love story.

Camera follows Slavik – a Russian ballroom dancer, who works on returning back to fame, back to the good old days when he was the World Champion. He starts anew with new young partner and competes against his old flame, who kept the title – winning with her new partner.

This film is so amazingly photographed and scored, that only for those two elements it is worth a watch. And on top of that you have a great true story of one man fighting for his career, his love, his life. Amazing film.

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Percival’s Big Night by William Sullivan (2011) #rdff

One room, one continous take, four characters, three bags of ‘herb’.

Salvatore (Sal) is an ‘herbal enterpreneur’ – i.e. NOT a drug dealer.

His flatmate named Percival (Percy) is a struggling actor.

The two behave like an old married couple – but it becomes obvious that just like a married couple they couldn’t live one without the other.

What do they talk about? Girls, life, future. Then – when the girls arrive, they split into twos, however, whoever leaves the room is not followed. Just like in theatre, just like on stage.

I like such confined setups. It allows to focus the whole attention on what is being said rather than what happens. In a way this is a social analysis of contemporary 20-year olds and their lives, their hopes, their plans.

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Flor de fango by Guillermo González (2011) #rdff

This is a Mexican drama. It tells the story of a hopeless case of middle-aged Augusto, who is a teacher, husband to beautiful Ruth and falls for a destructive passion for a 13-year old sort of adopted daughter of his.

The tragic journey to catch the escaping dove (or maybe in Mexico it is more like a seagull) should teach him a lesson. Yet he never learns and carries on through neckbreaking quest. The trip he undertakes is less geographical and more existential. There is a very high ladder he falls down from.

Perhaps this is a portrayal of contemporary Mexico and how thin the border is between the rich and the poorest. Perhaps this is a tale showing how relatively simple it is to switch from a fairly comfortable life to a life in the gutter.

All in all, perhaps the strongest side of this film is the costume, the colour, the music and the illusive beauty of the girl, who seems so innocent.

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