email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on LinkedIn share on reddit pin on Pinterest

UK

Malaika Bova, Martyna Szmytkowska • Artistic directors, Raindance Film Festival

“Our ambition is to become the go-to platform for emerging talents and their needs”

by 

- The artistic directors give us the low-down on how the London-based event, now in its 32nd year, is looking to rebrand and refocus its energy

Malaika Bova, Martyna Szmytkowska • Artistic directors, Raindance Film Festival
Malaika Bova (left) and Martyna Szmytkowska

Now in its 32nd year, the Raindance Film Festival – which runs from 19-28 June – has been one of the more recognisable on the UK scene over the past few decades. After a change to the gathering’s traditional slot, Cineuropa talked to its artistic directors, Malaika Bova and Martyna Szmytkowska, as the London-based event looks to rebrand and refocus its energy.

Cineuropa: Raindance has moved to a summer slot. What prompted the move?
Malaika Bova:
Raindance has been an autumn festival ever since it was founded in the 1990s, but that has become a very crowded season in the UK and worldwide, and as soon as we were appointed artistic directors, we felt that was one of the changes that needed to be implemented: finding a new spot in the calendar that would guarantee the right level of visibility for our filmmakers. Having the festival in June this year might just be a transition, as we are testing the water before settling in a new slot.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

What films and events are you particularly excited about at this edition?
Martyna Szmytkowska:
We are creating a boutique festival with a smaller, handpicked number of films, so we are proud of each and every one of them. We are very thankful to Universal for helping us to enhance our Focus on Germany section, by granting us the UK premiere of Tilman Singer’s Cuckoo [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
to open the festival with. Another amazing event, which is also part of our Focus on Germany, is a conversation with Christian Friedel, the star of the recent Oscar winner The Zone of Interest [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, hosted by Sandra Hebron, head of Screen Arts at NFTS, and followed by a special screening of Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Michael Haneke
film profile
]
. We are also hosting the world premiere of the Irish gem Kathleen Is Here [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
by Eva Birthistle, who will of course be present at the Q&A hosted by none other than Andrew Scott.

Tell us more about your industry focus and how you’re trying to develop filmmaking talent.
MB:
Our goal for the renewed Raindance is to create a hub for first- and second-time filmmakers, addressing all of the components of the festival within this frame. So not only are 100% of our main competition films by emerging filmmakers, but for the first time, this edition will also feature an industry programme tailored to their needs. From film funding to film selling and marketing, we have organised a series of panels that address these matters, matching the needs of this category of filmmakers, and we have invited industry people to allow them to network with relevant stakeholders. Due to the boutique nature of the festival, we have the scope to personally talk to all of the filmmakers, listen to what they have to say and try to help with their requests as much as we can.

Raindance has been a stalwart on the festival scene in the UK: what place do you think it has now on the national and international scene, and how do you think it needs to evolve?
MS:
We have been thinking a lot about this ever since we were appointed artistic directors. At the start of our journey, we discussed this with many members of the industry in the UK in order to understand what our role could be on such a vibrant festival scene, and we believe we have found our answer: to become champions of first- and second-time filmmakers. There is no such festival in the UK. Most other festivals have a debut strand, but none of them would solely focus on emerging talents and their needs. Our ambition is to become the go-to platform for them. We still have a lot of work to do to achieve that, but we have already started implementing various elements to support this goal, such as focusing the competitions solely on debut and sophomore features, tailoring the industry offering to cater to their specific needs, and rejigging the awards and jury selection.

It has been a time of flux for many festivals in the UK. How do you think that UK festivals need to negotiate their long-term survival, whether it be funding or other issues?
MB:
Despite the recent disruptions, the UK festival scene keeps playing a vital role. In a context of very cautious distribution strategies where only the big winners of large festivals hit the cinemas, festivals are ensuring that the cinematic offer to the audience is varied and diverse. But it is important that each one of us has a clear mission and objective different from the others so that there is space for all of us, and each and every one of us stays crucial to the whole ecosystem.

We also strongly believe that we do need to work together; we will serve the filmmakers, audiences and the industry better if we collaborate. With the ever-increasing costs and funding difficulties that each festival has been facing in recent years, sticking together can help ease some of those burdens. Sharing costs of guest attendance is one example, as well as sharing human resources, and information and knowledge about films. Because ultimately, a festival is all about bringing people together.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

Privacy Policy