Above and beyond the annual flurry of Australian features offered up at the London Film Festival, there are a bunch of festivals and one-off screenings across Britain throughout September and October that will cater for all Aussie film tastes, from cult to comedy, horror to haute couture.
RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
When it comes to Autumn film festivals, the indie boosters over at Raindance may seem like the bratty little sibling of LFF, but this festival has been programming a consistently interesting, challenging, and entertaining selection of the latest independent moving image from around the world for a quarter of a century now. Australian features at Raindance have been relatively sparse in recent years, but the 2017 festival features the European premiere of a comedy that has all the makings of a sleeper hit, Gregory Erdstein and Alice Foulcher’s That’s Not Me.
Foulcher stars as Polly, an aspiring actor whose career is floundering whilst that of her identical twin sister (also Foulcher) is flourishing after she lands the lead on an HBO show opposite Jared Leto. Struggling to come to terms with her sister’s success and no longer content to wallow in her own failings, Polly leaves Melbourne bound for Hollywood, and one last crack at stardom. That’s Not Me arrives in London having garnered rave reviews and festival screenings in Australia and the US, and is in the midst of a modestly successful theatrical release in Australia. Raindance gives it two outings at Vue West End cinemas in Leicester Square, with a September 21 matinee followed by an evening screening on the 28th.
If the prospects for Aussie features at Raindance is lean, those for web series have been rather more plentiful, a testament perhaps to the excess of short serial talent emerging from Australia of late. Getting the big screen treatment in the Webfest sidebar of this year’s Raindance is pitch-black convict comedy series Bruce (starring Richard Davies, Dave Lawson, and Angus Sampson), creepy and kooky Australian-themed Halloween series Girt By Fear, Odessa Young-starring bi-polar drama High Life, and Stuart Willis’ mind-bending sci-fi Restoration.
The 25th Raindance Film Festival runs from 20 September – 1 October 2017 at the Vue West End, and venues across central London.
TERROR UP NORTH
The perennial popularity of Frightfest has spawned a raft of cult and horror film festivals across the UK in recent years, and some of the best spills, chills, and thrills from Frightfest hit the North of England in the coming weeks, along with an exclusive UK premiere of a new Aussie feature.
Making its UK debut at Manchester’s Grimmfest (5-8 October 2017) is Rabbit, a creepy-looking slice of South Aus gothic. Taking the whole identical twin thing in a rather different direction to That’s Not Me, Rabbit is the feature debut of writer-director Luke Shanahan, and stars Adelaide Clemens as a student in Germany who returns home to Australia after the mysterious disappearance of her sister.
Also screening at Grimmfest is Chris Peckover’s Aus-shot trans-Pacific festive freakout Better Watch Out, in which a cast of (mostly) Australian actors – including Levi Miller, Olivia DeJonge, and Ed Oxenbould – don American accents and romp their way through a rather more gory reworking of the Home Alone narrative. The Aussie charge at Grimmfest is rounded out by the inclusion of camping thriller Killing Ground, which gets a festival boost in the midst of its limited theatrical release at the end of September.
The week after Grimmfest, the freak show rolls on to Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema and the annual Mayhem Film Festival (12-15 October 2017), which includes a screening of Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce’s TV samurai mock-doc (and Frightfest fave) Top Knot Detective. The weekend after Mayhem, Better Watch Out pops up again as the closing gala pick at Sheffield’s Celluloid Screams (20-22 October 2017), which – like each of the other festivals – also plays host to a handful of Aussie shorts.
Finally, if you find yourself further south, and cult goodness is more your thing, you may wish to head down to Celluloid Sorceress’ 35mm Cult Film Saturday at London’s Cinema Museum on September 23. This night of cult and horror splendour – all projected from glorious 35mm prints – is rounded out by a rare big screen outing for Australia’s favourite bush pig, Razorback (d. Russell Mulcahy, 1984).
No word on UK releases for Rabbit or Top-Knot Detective yet, but Better Watch Out has landed a deal with Universal that will include a suitably festive theatrical release on December 8, whilst Killing Ground hits UK cinemas on September 29.
To get you in the mood for all that is scary, here’s the delightfully creepy trailer for Rabbit, and a creepily delightful one for Better Watch Out:
PURBECK FILM FESTIVAL
Those in England’s South-West don’t always get a chance to see the latest Australian films, and when they do, it’s usually thanks to the remarkable breadth of programming offered in the annual Purbeck Film Festival (13-29 October 2017).
Now in it’s 21st year, Purbeck plays host to a range of recent Aussie features, including heart-wrenching adoption drama Lion (d. Garth Davis, 2016); Jen Peedom’s acclaimed Everest doco Sherpa (2015); the utterly spell-binding, Vanuatu-set love story Tanna (d. Martin Butler & Bentley Dean, 2015); Jocelyn Moorhouse’s baroque homecoming marvel, The Dressmaker (2015); and the ‘arthouse in a lighthouse’ moodiness of Derek Cianfrance’s The Light Between Oceans (2016).
Full details of films, screening locations, and ticket links can be found on the Purbeck Film Festival website.
JASPER JONES PLAYS GYFF
Finally, fresh from its UK debut as the opening gala of London’s Oz Film Festival, Rachel Perkins’ adaptation of Craig Silvey’s popular coming-of-age novel Jasper Jones gets a Scottish outing on September 24th at the Glasgow Youth Film Festival.
Set in 1969, the film stars Levi Miller (Red Dog: The Early Years, Better Watch Out) as Charlie, a bookish outsider in a small town, whose life is turned upside-down when fellow outcast Jasper (Aaron L. McGrath) leads him to the body of local girl Laura Wishart. Families crumble and relationships unravel as the film’s mysteries are revealed with glimpses of humour, a touch of darkness, and a more than a hint of ‘Southern Gothic’. The young cast also features the excellent Angourie Rice, who made her feature debut in another Western Australia-set film, These Final Hours, and whose star has rapidly risen in the US, with roles opposite Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys, as well as in Sophia Coppola’s ensemble drama The Beguiled, and in comic book flick Spider-Man: Homecoming. Ample support for the young cast comes from the ever reliable Toni Collette, Dan Wyllie and Hugo Weaving.
Following the Glasgow Youth Film Festival screening on September 24, Jasper Jones will be available on UK DVD/VOD from November 6 (via Signature Entertainment).
Something for everyone, then, across the UK in the coming months, but for all the latest information on film releases and one-off screenings, keep an eye on our Aussie Film Calendar.