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Friday, 13 October, 2000, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
London cinema goes independent
Guy Pearce in Memento
Pearce plays a man with a rare form of memory loss
Britain's largest independent film festival has opened in London with former Neighbours actor Guy Pearce's acclaimed new movie Memento tipped as a major highlight.

Now in its eighth year, the Raindance festival features a packed fortnight of more than 50 feature films and 200 shorts.

Numerous leading European and American film-makers will also be putting in an appearance before Raindance closes on 26 October.

Pearce played Mike Young in the Australian soap Neighbours from 1986 to 1990. In films, he is best-known for his starring role in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

He also appeared in Ravenous and LA Confidential.

His latest movie Memento is a grisly psychological thriller by up-and-coming British director Christopher Nolan.

Pearce plays Leonard Shelby, a man suffering from a rare case of memory loss who nonetheless sets out to track down his wife's killer.

Awards

Other Raindance highlights include Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her - the star-studded directorial debut from Rodrigo Garcia, son of Nobel Prize winning writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Cameron Diaz, Calista Flockhart
Cameron Diaz and Amy Brenneman in Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her
The movie is an interconnecting story of five women with top US actresses Calista Flockheart, Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz and Kathy Baker.

Chuck and Buck, an offbeat comedy and a hit in the US over the summer, runs alongside The Suicidal Dog, British comedian Paul Merton's first short film as writer/director.

The festival's closing film, It Was An Accident, is a British movie starring Thandie Newton and Max Beesley, a comedy about an ex-convict trying to lead a settled life.

It has also been nominated for two British Independent Film Awards, including one for Courtney Pine's dazzling Jazz score.

Festival-goers will have the chance to find out how to sell a screenplay and raise money, how to create a successful short, to how to shoot, edit and prepare a film for the web.

The festival culminates in the British Independent Film Awards, to be held on the evening of 25 October at London's Café Royal, with awards for best British and foreign films.

Just for kids

An innovative part of the festival programme is a section entirely devoted to children - Raindance Kids.

Hosted by the Clapham Picture House cinema, the mini-festival is targeted at 7-17 year-olds and features screenings, production workshops and shoots.

With contributions from industry professionals - including the makers of children's hits such as Space Jam, An American Tail, and The Magic Sword - the workshops hope to provide hand-on-experience to a new generation of film-makers.

At the end of the week, films made by participants will be entered into a competition, and everyone involved will be able to take away a video copy of their work.

Elliot Grove, Festival Director said: "We wanted to open up the film industry to London's young people and make it relevant and exciting to them."

"Not only do we plan for it to become an annual festival, we also want to develop an outreach schools programme so that the festival, workshop and educational programme can tour nationally."

Raindance runs from 13-26 October. Raindance Kids runs from 23-27 October.

See also:

14 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Independence day for British film
13 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Film frenzy at London festival
15 Oct 99 | Entertainment
British cinema honours its stars
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