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PREVIEW: East End Film Festival 2015

June 9, 2015

FestivalsFilm + EntertainmentFirst Look | by Francesco Cerniglia


The 14th East End Film Festival (EEFF), running July 1-12, 2015, has announced its programme with 18 World Premieres, 8 European Premieres, 20 UK Premieres and 16 London Premieres.

ONE-CRAZY-THING-PREFERRED

OPENING NIGHT GALA
Affirming its role as a home for breakthrough British filmmaking, the festival opens with the gala European Premiere of ONE CRAZY THING (dir: Amit Gupta, UK). Starring and produced by one of BAFTA’s 2014 Breakthrough Brits and EEFF alumnus Ray Panthaki (his directorial debut, Life Sentence won Best UK Short EEFF 2013), this wry take on the superficiality of fame also stars Daisy Bevan of the Redgrave acting dynasty. “We’re delighted at the news of One Crazy Thing opening such a progressive festival that reflects the true indie spirit in which the film was made,” says Ray Panthaki. “I’ve personally had a wonderful affiliation with EEFF over the years. Having won Best UK Short there two years ago as a writer/director, it feels incredibly fitting to be returning as an actor/producer with One Crazy Thing.

CLOSING NIGHT GALA
Another EEFF alumnus, British documentary filmmaker Marc Silver’s follow-up to Who is Dayani Cristal? (EEFF 2014) is another topical and deeply pertinent American tale. 3½ MINUTES, TEN BULLETS (dir: Marc Silver, USA) dissects the aftermath of a tragic incident at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, in which an unarmed 17-year old African-American was slain over the trivial issue of loud music. EEFF’s Closing Night Gala is one of a fistful of festival documentaries probing the issue of race in America.

BRITISH FILM HIGHLIGHTS
EEFF’s commitment to home-grown talent is reaffirmed with its largest ever line-up of British cinema, with 33 titles including a London focus supported by Principal Partner London Calling. Set on an economically crumbling stretch of British coastline, the World Premiere of PLEASURE ISLAND (dir: Mike Doxford, UK) is a tightly sketched drama. The World Premiere of NORTH VS SOUTH (dir: Steven Nesbit, UK) has star-crossed lovers from rival families, northern and southern hard men, and a cast including Bernard Hill, Greta Scacchi, Keith Allen, Steve Evets, Steven Berkoff and Doctor Who’s Freema Agyeman. A debut feature from an alumnus of EEFF’s industry sessions Mind The Gap, the World Premiere of THIS IS NOT HAPPENING (dir: Ewan Thomas, UK) tells of a man’s struggle to reintegrate into normal life. An example of risk-taking British filmmaking, the London Premiere of NORFOLK (dir: Martin Radich, UK) is a tale of revenge, family and elemental violence. The festival’s Centerpiece Gala screening of revenge thriller STILL (dir: Simon Blake, UK) includes a Q&A with lead actor Aidan Gillen (Game Of Thrones).

Features with local resonance include PANIC (dir: Sean Spencer, UK), an East End set story starring David Gyasi (Interstellar/Cloud Atlas) as an agoraphobic music journalist forced to face his fears. MLE (dir: Sarah Warren, UK) is a Hackney-set feature debut about a young actress in peril. Austrian feature WHERE I BELONG (dir: Fritz Urschitz, Austria) was shot in the East End, at locations including Mile End’s The Palm, telling the story of a woman who moves to England to escape Nazi oppression.

BRITISH DOCUMENTARY HIGHLGHTS
British documentaries with east London angles include ESTATE, A REVERIE (dir: Andrea Luka Zimmerman, UK) eulogising the death of a utopian dream, Hackney’s Haggerston Estate, demolished after nearly 70 years. A counterculture fable, DRESSED AS A GIRL (dir: Colin Rothbart, UK) is a fabulous exploration of the east London drag scene, featuring key figures including Jonny Woo. Narrated by Steven Berkoff, THE ANARCHIST RABBI (dir: Adam Kossoff, UK) is an experimental doc about the man who campaigned with the East End’s Jewish migrants 100 years ago. In STEVIE G (dir: Umut Gundz, UK), this Homerton-based filmmaker documents his attempt at reconnecting with his estranged brother, made with the support of YouTube.

EEFF opened in 2012 with the gala screening of an Amy Winehouse documentary, so it’s fitting that the festival will screen AMY (dir: Asif Kapadia, UK). EEFF patron Asif Kapadia is an alumnus of the festival’s new Principal Partner UEL (University of East London), and his follow up to Senna is another tense, whirlwind tale of a superstar’s rise and fall. From EEFF regulars the Rainbow Collective comes UDITA (dir: Richard York & Hannah Majid, UK), a powerful account of the struggle of female garment workers in Bangladesh. A London Premiere, STAND BY FOR TAPE BACK-UP (dir: Ross Sutherland, UK) is an endearingly esoteric take on family, memory and analogue home recording.

129-Good People-Photo Nick Wall.NEF

INTERNATIONAL FILM HIGHLIGHTS
A stunning debut from a Terrence Malick collaborator, the UK Premiere of THE BETTER ANGELS (dir: AJ Edwards, USA) dramatizes Abraham Lincoln’s formative experiences, shaped by two vital women – played by Diane Kruger and Brit Marling. James Franco and Kate Hudson star in the London Premiere of GOOD PEOPLE (dir: Henrik Ruben Genz, UK/USA), a riveting London-set thriller in which a couple in debt face bad consequences after finding a huge pile of cash. A breakout hit from Sundance Film Festival, the London Premiere of THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (dir: Marielle Heller, USA) is a striking adaptation of a graphic novel, a nuanced tale of burgeoning sexuality and boundary testing in counterculture San Francisco.

A UK Premiere, ATLANTIC (dir: Jan-Willem van Ewijk, Netherlands) is set one fateful summer in a tranquil village where tourists flock to ride the perfect waves. The lives of three people become intertwined in unforeseen ways in the London Premiere of LIFE IN A FISHBOWL (dir: Baldvin Zophoniasson, Iceland). 14% of Georgia’s population lost their homes in the past 5 years as a result of high interest mortgage loans, and the UK Premiere of LINE OF CREDIT (dir: Salomé Alexi, Georgia/France/Germany) is a bleakly comic drama telling one such story. The UK Premiere of THE FIRE (dir: Juan Schnitman, Argentina) tests the true nature of love between a young couple over a tense 24 hours. Set on board a hulking cargo ship, the UK Premiere of IVY (dir: Tolga Karaçelik, Turkey) sees a group of disgruntled sailors go off the deep end in this extraordinary second feature. In the UK Premiere of LOVE, THEFT AND OTHER ENTANGLEMENTS (dir: Muayad Alayan, Palestine), a Palestinian car thief gets more trouble than expected when he discovers a kidnapped Israeli soldier in the trunk of a car he’s stolen. A post-apocalyptic epic, the UK Premiere of CRUMBS (dir: Miguel Llansó, Spain/Ethiopia) is a gripping tale of fears, daydreams and decayed civilisation.

INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS
The World Premiere of LEE SCRATCH PERRY’S VISION OF PARADISE (dir: Volker Schaner, Germany/UK) is the ultimate portrait of the man who can lay claim to be a godfather of both reggae and dub. This Centerpiece Gala screening includes Q&A with Lee Scratch Perry. A narrative from the Palestinian diaspora, TRIP ALONG EXODUS (dir: Hind Shoufani, Lebanon) documents Hind’s father’s journey, from Galilee in 1948 to the current war in Syria. From Las Vegas storm drains to arid Utah, five survivors hustle their way through a world that seems apocalyptic in the London Premiere of ABOVE & BELOW (dir: Nicolas Steiner, Switzerland). Spike Lee presents a gritty story set on the bottom rung of the drug war in MANOS SUCIAS (dir: Josef Kubota Wladyka, Colombia).

A slew of brilliant documentaries tackle the question of race in America. A tale of the ‘enemy within’, WELCOME TO LEITH (dir: Michael Beach Nichols, USA) chronicles the attempted takeover of this tiny North Dakota town by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. Blending stunning archive with first-hand testimony, THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION (dir: Stanley Nelson, USA) revisits the story of disillusioned activists during the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Produced by Natalie Portman and presented by Terrence Malick, THE SEVENTH FIRE (dir: Jack Pettibone Riccobono, USA) is a haunting portrait of Minnesota’s Native American gang crisis.

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The EEFF’s award system is a vital part of its mission to discover, debate and develop new voices in cinema. The top award recognises first- and second-time filmmakers, with the winner invited back the following year as Director-in-Residence to head up this year’s feature jury.

All named after song titles, EEFF’s shorts programmes comprise 57 films from around the world, with a particularly piquant East End flavour.

EEFF’s targeted industry sessions MIND THE GAP focuses on filmmakers in transition between first to second feature. Supported by 3 Mills Studios these expert-led workshops run 29 June – 1 July.

EEFF fuses cinema and sound with the visually dazzling blood-soaked terror THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS (dir: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani, Belgium/France/Luxembourg) complete with the World Premiere of an original score curated by Ben Power (Fuck Buttons/Blanck Mass) featuring Blanck Mass, Helm, Moon Gangs, Konx-Om-Pax, Roll The Dice and C Spencer Yeh. This also marks the festival’s first foray into record releasing, with this extraordinary soundtrack available as a very limited edition vinyl release.

The East End Film Festival 2015 runs from Wednesday July 1st to Sunday July 12th.

You can find the full program and tickets on the official website

Francesco Cerniglia – Film Editor