Founded in 2001, the East End Film Festival is now one of the biggest film festivals in London. In this, its ninth year, the festival offers a 9-day packed programme of features, documentaries and shorts, plus film-focused discussions and live music and arts events spread across thirty East End venues. Last year's festival broke all past records as audiences rose to over 30,000. This year the festival continues to grow, and will screen over 200 films, showcasing an impressive range of premieres from across the globe. As well as screening the best of East European, Middle Eastern, and South East Asian cutting edge urban cinema, East End Film Festival will endeavour to keep its feet firmly planted in East London - and to that end will put East End filmmakers in the spotlight by screening new films from our very own local emerging talent. The festival will hark back to the East End of yesterday, with a specially commissioned programme of heritage films. Mindful of the general election, there'll also be a selection of thought-provoking films themed around cultural politics.
Ahead of its summer re-release, the festival opens with a special screening of Barney Platts-Mills cult 1969 classic BRONCO BULLFROG. Shot on a shoestring budget using a cast of local kids, this gritty Stratford set drama went on to win Semaine de la Critique at Cannes, and The Writers Guild of Great Britain's Best Original Screenplay award. When it originally screened at the ABC Cinema (now Genesis Cinema), the film was seen by a young Princess Anne. We're therefore thrilled to host this digitally restored HD screening at the Genesis.
Directed by journalist Mark Donne and narrated by musician Carl Barat, THE RIME OF THE MODERN MARINER is a new artist documentary that explores the culture, community and folklore of the London Docks. The film's unfurling narrative reveals the decaying architecture, music, and native languages that remain etched in the masonry and bloodstream of this unique quarter. Its score samples bell-ringing from East London dockside churches, creaking hulls, and engine room rhythms - sounds that will supplement the live music score, performed by composer Anthony Rossomando and accompanied by an ensemble including Rose Elinor Dougall and very special guests. This World Premiere screening will be held in the uniquely atmospheric setting of Nicholas Hawksmoor's baroque St Anne's Church in Limehouse.
With a general election imminent, East End Film Festival will put its mark on the ballot paper by hosting a selection of films and events with a political edge. With election speculation and the stop-and-search policies of the Met Police once again making headlines, now is the perfect time for director Robert Heath to premiere his cinematic version of acclaimed play SUS. From the writer of British classic The Long Good Friday, this powerful drama is set on the eve of the general election in 1979 and tackles the Sus law and institutionalised racism. A panel discussion with the filmmaker, actors Clint Dyer, Rafe Spall, and Ralph Brown, and guests such as Doreen Lawrence, Stephen Kamlish QC, David Akinsanya, Pennie Quinton and Shami Chakrabarti will follow.
Originally conceived as a one-off concert, Rock Against Racism went on to make great progress in fighting racism and fascism, and will be duly celebrated during the festival. RIOT, RACE, & ROCK N'ROLL: ROCK AGAINST RACISM 1978 - 1981 will comprise a round table discussion hosted by Mark Steel, with a panel to include musicians Jerry Dammers, Tom Robinson, Feargal Sharkey, and Sam Duckworth, and filmmakers Don Letts and Gurinder Chadha. Live music will follow this debate. The festival will also premiere the re-edit of Alan Miles acclaimed documentary WHO SHOT THE SHERIFF?, tracking the rise of the National Front in Britain during the 1970's. Featuring rare archive footage of leading artists and activists, it shows how music challenged the neo-Nazi threat. Afterwards will be a gig by The Allstars, a band comprising Sam Duckworth and special celebrity guests. A RIOT OF OUR OWN, an exhibition of photos and artwork curated by original RAR collaborators, will run at Vibe Gallery for the duration of the festival - with Jerry Dammers of The Specials fame on the decks for the exhibition's opening night.
Amnesty International's Human Rights Action Centre is once again a festival venue. A former Amnesty Prisoner of Conscience, Ngawang Choephel was arrested on charges of espionage by Chinese authorities in 1995. Sentenced to 18 years in prison, he was released in 2002. For his Sundance Jury Award-winning documentary TIBET IN SONG, he returned to the land he left at the age of two to capture the music of his people before it's lost in a void of cultural repression. Introduced by Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, PRESUMED GUILTY is a documentary that attempts to exonerate a wrongly convicted man: a young breakdancer and rapper, sentenced to 20 years in prison for a murder he clearly could not have committed. Shot with a handheld camera by American-based attorney Roberto Hernandez and developed by British filmmaker Geoffrey Smith, the film exposes Mexico's unsound legal system. LONELY PACK, documenting the everyday life of a Nepal street child, and Jaroslav Vojtek's THE BORDER tackling issues around borders, also screen.
A strong contingent of British films includes Simon Chambers' COWBOYS IN INDIA, documenting a group of tribal people who are fighting with bows and arrows to save a sacred mountain from being plundered by London mining moguls. For SHED YOUR TEARS AND WALK AWAY, filmmaker Jez Lewis returns home to Hebden Bridge, to compassionately document the sad underside of this thriving Yorkshire market town. Winner of India's National Film Award for Best Feature Film in English, Avantika Hari's LAND GOLD WOMEN tackles the controversial subject of honour killings. Filmed on location in Birmingham, it follows a British-Asian family caught between Eastern tradition, Western culture, and political turbulence. The feature debut of documentary filmmaker Ben O'Connor, ANA BEGINS is a subtle and intricate love story set in rural North Devon. The story probes the tense, guilt-filled relationship that develops between a young widow and her lonely older neighbour. Set in and around Greenwich and Canary Wharf, Carl Medland's feature debut THE COST OF LOVE follows a rentboy who specialises in sexual fantasies, although his own dreams of happiness are complicated by the fact that he secretly loves his soon-to-be-married straight best friend.
At the core of all activity will be the FILMMAKERS CENTRE at Wieden + Kennedy's events space The Cole - hosting industry talks, masterclasses, training programmes, screenings, and special events with major industry names including Scouting Book For Boys director Tom Harper, composers Michael Nyman and Nitin Sawhney, Barry Adamson of Magazine and Bad Seeds fame, and special guests courtesy of BAFTA. Over the weekend s&m will provide a hog-roast in the roof garden - a tempting appetiser to GRITS N'GRAVY SUNDAY, a day of Deep South cinema nourishment, including the UK Premiere of THE WILD AND WONDERFUL WHITES OF WEST VIRGINIA. Directed by Julien Nitzberg, and produced by Johnny Knoxville, this true story of living legend Jesco White, the ‘White Lightnin' mountain tap dancer of rural Appalachia will be accompanied by complementary Bloody Mary's.
Director Igor Voloshin and Russia's famous young actress Oksana Akinshina (Lilya 4 Ever, The Bourne Supremacy) comes to East London to present the gritty new film I AM (YA). Described as a ‘psychedelic drama', it's the story of post-Gladnost Russia, and how the youth tried to find themselves following the collapse of Communism. We also welcome uncompromising Russian director Aleksey Balabanov, here to present his two most recent films. Using the code-word for the boxes which bring dead soldiers back from Afghanistan, CARGO 200 (GRUZ 200) is a dark comedy that follows a corrupt police chief in rural Soviet Russia in 1984. Based on the book by Mikhail Bulgakov, MORPHIA takes us back to 19th century Siberia, where a young doctor descends into drug addiction. Both screenings will be followed by a director Q&A. The festivals exploration of new Russian cinema continues with CRUSH, a unique collaboration of five innovative ‘New Wave' Russian directors; RUSSIA 88, Pavel Bardin's highly polemic mocumentary about Moscow's neo-Nazis; BUBEN BARABAN, Alexei Mizgirey's intense, Locarno Silver Leopard-winning drama; and a late night screening of Alexander Strizhenov's school horror JULIA.
The festivals Polish selection will include films by well-established directors and debuting young filmmakers. UK premieres include Robert Gliński's anticipated PIGGIES, Mariusz Grzegorzek's I AM YOURS, and Artur Pilarczyk's first feature NOW AND FOREVER. There'll also be a showcase screening of Katarzyna Roslaniec's Polish box office hit, MALL GIRLS.
As a result of Michael Muhammad Knight's novel, depicting a fictitious Islamic punk rock scene, real bands such as The Kominas formed and began touring the United States and Pakistan - a phenomenon captured in Omar Majeed's documentary TAQWACORE: THE BIRTH OF PUNK ISLAM. A panel discussion hosted by Hammad Khan follows.
Spitalfie1ds will once again host a free outdoor screening of a silent classic, with an improvised soundtrack performed live by Minima. This year's film will be Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1927 thriller THE LODGER. Spitalfie1ds will also host the festivals GIVE & TAKE event - the latest recession-busting pro-recycling craze to hit the streets, it's a chance to swap unwanted film memorabilia. Running for the duration of the festival, our specially commissioned interactive film installation LOCAL(EYES) explores East London's streets from the perspective of a cyclist.
The Whitechapel Gallery will host a screening and panel discussion exploring the legacy of punk poetry. This special event will incorporate a screening of Dom Shaw's ALL THE YEARS OF TRYING. Part music documentary, part concert film, it tells the story of influential punk poet Patrick Fitzgerald. Another cultural high will take place at Barbican Cinema, where local filmmaker Marc Isaacs will discuss his latest documentary MEN OF THE CITY.
Village Underground will host the Visionare pop-up cinema, combining underground music documentaries, alternative music, and live performances. Highlights include the European Premiere of DOWNTOWN CALLING, documenting the pop culture, street art and music of 70's New York, narrated by Debbie Harry, followed by a DJ set with Andrew Weatherall; and an evening dedicated to singer-songwriter-filmmaker-artist David Byrne, including screenings of TRUE STORIES and ILLE AIYA (HOUSE OF LIFE), plus a live gig by Dalston four-piece Django Django.
Compiled from over thirty years of photographs, Phil Maxwell and Hazuan Hashim's EAST END HERITAGE is a beautiful visual document of local meeting places, streets, and communities. This premiere screening at The Water Poet pub kick-starts the festivals HERITAGE PUB TRAIL - a sequence of unique screenings in ten of the East End's oldest and best public houses, to provide Londoners with a perfect opportunity to unwind with a drink and a good film.
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National press: Alex Rowley, Organic Marketing
Local press: Stuart Haggas, East End Film Festival