Photography by Justina Suminaite
By Abigail Yue Wang
The making of Raindance Film Festival
One may find Elliot Grove a man of many juxtapositions: a Canadian film set designer who ventured to Britain initially out of aspiration in the property business; once a sixteen-year-old who tiptoed into a cinema despite being taught by his Amish upbringing that devils lived in movie theatres; a filmmaker who once lost all contact in his native Toronto is now running not just one, but two of the most prolific film events in Europe.
As the founder of Raindance Film Festival (since 1993) and British Independent Film Awards (since 1998), such upturns in reversed conditions have perhaps made the trademark of Elliot Grove’s career. He is no stranger to rejections; being turned down by government funding twenty-nine times, Raindance Film Festival was founded in the most forgettable fashion when London and the whole of Britain were elusive about its modest preference towards independent cinema. Two decades on, Raindance has voiced its competence by presenting emerging filmmakers and their career-defining debuts. From Pulp Fiction’s UK premiere to the inception of Christopher Nolan’s career (Memento premiere), perceptive as Raindance is, it is not known for shying away from controversies.
For Grove, to change the status quo in the current film distributing system is deemed to stir debates. Like the festival’s prolonged build-up, changes don’t happen over night, slowly but surely. Grove has now expanded his field from festivals to filmmaking education and lecturing, reassuring a can-do attitude in filmmaking that helps to shape it into a more democratic practice.