East End Film Festival
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The East End Film Festival is one of the UK’s biggest film festivals. In various venues across East London the festival annually "showcases hot new talent and homegrown films alongside larger independent releases and special events, informing and inspiring a new generation of filmmakers and audiences from across London and beyond, and raising the profile of this vibrant and diverse area - London’s East End." The festival also strives to actively search for “new voices from the edges of society, from different cultures, from strangers.” To this end, particular attention is paid to emergent British, Eastern European and Asian talent, and the festival screens features and hundreds of short films from up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world. The festival also places great emphasis on its MIND THE GAP sessions, which help "filmmakers in all stages of their careers cross the divide between an initial success and a sustainable career." New to the 2013 festival is a concerted focus on South American independent film. Also new to the 2013 festival is East End Live, a day-long mini music festival which will conclude this year’s festival. It will see over sixty acts perform in ten distinct locations across the East End.
East End Film Festival 2013
This year’s festival will run from the 25th of June to the 10th of July, opening with a world premier of Mark Donne’s stimulating documentary The UK Gold, which boasts an "impressive soundtrack" composed by "politically active" singers Thom Yorke and Robert Del Naja. Born out of the issues raised by the Occupy movement, The UK Gold comes to evaluate the legacy a culture of tax avoidance and finance-centric politics will leave behind in the UK, with the 2011 England Riots and the 2012 Summer Olympics providing a highly polarised backdrop. This film will be the first offering ever screened at Troxy, an exciting new venue for the EEFF; a percentage of all ticket sales will also be donated to Enough Food for Everyone. The Festival will be closed by Rob Epstein’s and Jeffery Friedman’s Lovelace, a retro period drama and Hollywood film which demonstrates the potential for “bravery and invention” in any filmic field, something the EEFF believes in strongly. Focusing on cultural shifts and the downtrodden in times gone by, Lovelace speaks to the present with conviction.
These are just two highlights from a programme which will consist of a hundred shorts and eighty features, the festival's biggest offering of features to date; another landmark achievement involves the festival fielding its largest line-up of UK films yet. Time Out also underscored the Masonic Temple Screenings, "a day of secret-society-themed screenings at a real Masonic temple", as a highlight for the 2013 festival, whilst The London Evening Standard named Ashim Ahluwalia's Miss Lovely and Alejandro Fade's debut The Wild Ones as films well worth seeing. In total the festival will boast "16 world premieres, two European premieres, 28 UK premieres and 19 London premieres". And for the first time, the festival will also include an additional event: a music festival, East End Live, on the 13th of July. Over sixty up-and-coming bands are set to play at ten trendy venues across the East End. The ambitious steps the festival has taken this year prompted EEFF artistic director Alison Poltock to opine that, "the festival has undergone some seismic movements, but none more so than this year.”
Other important events will also be: EMERGE, an immersive series of talks, interactive instillations and screenings about the future of film technology and newcomers to the industry; ZOOM, a series of screenings made by, about, and for, Deaf people; GRITS ‘N’ GRAVY, a celebration of film from the American Deep South; and CUTTING EAST, an event which gives voice to the youth of East London.
The East End Film Festival started in 2001. Originally set up by the East London borough of Tower Hamlets as a platform to recognise local filmmakers, its initial success led to a partnership in 2003 with neighbouring London Borough of Hackney, London Borough of Newham, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, and the Raindance Film Festival which ran Raindance East as part of its official selection. As a result of this partnership, the festival was rebranded as Raindance East from 2003 to 2005, but returned to its original East End Film Festival state in 2006.
In 2006, the East End Film Festival opened with the London premiere of actor Richard E. Grant's directorial debut Wah-Wah. Not only did Richard E. Grant attend the gala premiere, he also acted as the festivals Director In Residence, and took part in a Q&A session introducing a special festival screening of Robert Altman's 1975 masterpiece Nashville. Producer In Residence Stephen Woolley also took part in a Q&A following a special festival screening of his acclaimed film The Crying Game.
The 2007 festival opened with the world premiere of With Gilbert And George, a moving portrait of Spitalfields-based contemporary artists Gilbert And George, followed by a Q&A with director Julian Cole. The 2007 programme also included a sneak preview of Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten plus a conversation with the film's director, Julien Temple. Nitin Sawhney, musician and patron of the festival, said: "Having been a patron of the festival for four years, it’s been really rewarding to watch the festival grow, reflecting the creative explosion that’s happening in east London at the moment."
The festival opened in 2008 with the London premiere of independent British feature The Waiting Room. The film's director Roger Goldby said "I am absolutely thrilled that we have been selected for the gala opening night screening. It’s a great way to introduce The Waiting Room to Londoners, as the East End Film Festival is such a vibrant and creative event." Roger Goldby and lead actor Ralf Little attended the opening night premiere along with other VIP guests. The screening was followed by a party at Beach Blanket Babylon in Shoreditch. Other highlights in 2008 included a programme of films exploring teenage angst (including two earlier films starring Oscar nominated young actress Ellen Page), a selection of new British features, films from Eastern Europe, as well as a vast collection of shorts.
In 2009, the BBC Film Network said: "as in previous years, we can expect a satisfyingly diverse lineup of films and events at various venues across East London. The programmers have focused on films which portray aspects of East End and multicultural London life." The Evening Standard newspaper flagged up their highlights as: City Rats, Elevator, British filmmakers Nicola and Teena Collins' debut film The End, Junior Eurovision Song Contest documentary Sounds Like Teen Spirit, discussion panel The London Perambulator, and 3-D cinema event Another Dimension And How To Get There as highlights. There was also a screening of Not In Our Name at Amnesty International's Human Rights Action Centre. The 2009 East End Film Festival trailer was directed and designed by Lucy Izzard, an annimation director and illustrator at Slinky Pictures; it featured a variety of comic characters visiting various festival venues such as RichMix, the Whitechapel Gallery, and the Genesis Cinema. In 2009, the festival incorporated almost 200 screenings and events, and broke all past festival records as audiences rose to over 30,000.
The 2010 East End Film Festival took place between the 22nd and 30 April. Actress Jaime Winstone was announced as a new festival patron for 2010. The full programme was announced at an event at The Brickhouse in East London on the 23rd of March 2010 by festival director Alison Poltock. The festival kicked off on 22 April with a preview screening of Barney Platts-Mills' cult 1969 film Bronco Bullfrog (set in Stratford, East London, and starring local kids) prior to its re-release that summer. Highlights included: Mark Donne's The Rime of the Modern Mariner, narrated by musician Carl Barat; SUS, based on the 1979 play about Margaret Thatcher's "stop and search" laws by Barrie Keeffe; and a series of events commemorating Rock Against Racism, the grassroots movement against the National Front in the late 1970s. There was also a free screening of Alfred Hitchcock's classic silent film The Lodger in Spitalfields Market, accompanied by an improvised soundtrack performed live by Minima
For the festival's 10th anniversary in 2011, it looked back on the story of east London with a dynamic programme of screenings and events featuring more than sixty feature films and hundreds of shorts, alongside a broad range of live, site-specific events and master classes. The festival opened on the 27th of April with the World Premiere gala screening of Roger Sargent’s The Libertines: There Are No Innocent Bystanders Frequently described as the UK’s most important music photographer, Roger Sargent's debut feature is an all-access documentary that followed Carl Barat, Pete Doherty, John Hassall and Gary Powell for The Libertines' reunion in 2010. The East End Film Festival also offered the UK’s second-ever screening of Ken Russell’s highly controversial 1971 film The Devils (film). EEFF 2011 saw the launch of Movie May Day, a May Bank Holiday weekend cornucopia of film and culture with hundreds of free screenings, projections, live music, quizzes, filmmaking competitions, and site-specific installations across the East End
The 11th East End Film Festival opened on the 3rd of July 2012 with the UK Premiere of a documentary about Amy Winehouse. The festival foreshadowed the 2012 Summer Olympics’ heart-lifting, international coming together by leading with six days rich in cinema from all over the globe. The festival closed on the 8th of July with the UK Premiere of Armando Bo’s El último Elvis, an acclaimed feature from Argentina about a delusional Elvis impersonator. Armando Bo returned to the festival again in 2013 as a member of the panel judging the best feature films of the festival that year. The festival’s fringe event, CineEast, took place on Sunday 1 July with a day of free events featuring short and feature film screenings, live music, talks, workshops, film trails and competitions, incorporating over 1000 films and site-specific events in over 100 different venues, including cinemas, cultural spaces, shops, restaurants and art galleries.
The 12th East End Film Festival ran from the 25th of June until the 10th of July, opening with the world premiere of Mark Donne’s documentary The UK Gold. The film was screened at the Troxy, a beautiful art deco cinema in Limehouse, with a percentage of all ticket sales being donated to Enough Food for Everyone. The EEFF closed with Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman’s Lovelace, a biopic retro period drama following the story of Linda Lovelace, a woman who is ‘used and abused by the porn industry at the behest of her coercive husband, before taking control of her life.’; as well as a live soundtrack by Karl Hyde (Underworld) to Kieran Evan’s film The Outer Edges at Netil House. 2013’s Best Film Award went to Halley, which follows the story of a security guard at a Mexico City gym whose health drastically begins to deteriorate. Sebastian Hofmann’s award means he will return to the festival in 2014 as the EEFF’s Director-in-Residence, and co-curator for the festival’s Mexican focus in 2014.
Each year the festival hands out awards on the festival's closing night. These include:
- Best UK Short Film
- Best UK First Feature
- Best International First Feature
- Best Documentary Feature
- Short Film Audience Award
Oscar-winning director and festival patron Danny Boyle said "I always film in the East End when I can. I love it. The area really hasn’t properly been explored, both visually or culturally and it needs to be represented more. Festivals like the East End Film Festival make people more aware of the area, and that’s a good thing."  The current patrons of the East End Film Festival are:
- Steven Berkoff (actor, playwright, author, and director)
- Danny Boyle (Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, and Shallow Grave)
- Tony Grisoni (screenplay writer of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)
- Asif Kapadia (director of Senna and The Warrior)
- Michael Nyman (composer of the score for The Piano and Gattaca)
- Pawel Pawilowski (director of My Summer Of Love)
- Nitin Sawhney (multi-award-winning composer, musician and producer)
- Jason Solomons (journalist and film critic)
- Paraminder Vir OBE (producer of Babymother)
- Jaime Winstone (actress)
- Jeremy Wooding (director of Bollywood Queen and Peep Show)
- Stephen Woolley (producer of The Crying Game, Sounds Like Teen Spirit)
- Joe Wright (director of Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, The Soloist)
- BBC Film Network
- Tony Grisoni in an interview with Joakim S Harwell, http://www.eastendfilmfestival.com, 2013.
- IndieLondon preview
- IndieLondon review
- official website of The Waiting Room Film
- Film London, 17 April 2008
- James Rocarols, BBC Film Network, 17 April 2009
- Nick Roddick, Evening Standard, 14 April 2009
- Amnesty International
- Trailer directed and designed by Lucy Izzard at Slinky Pictures
- "", David Jenkins, Time Out.
- Sheila Johnston, The Arts Desk, 23 March 2010
- East End Film Festival