Tickets go on sale today for the East End Film Festival, which includes more new notable screenings and London-y films than you can shake a jellied eel at. In all, there are 18 world premieres, eight European premieres, 20 UK premieres and 16 London premieres, all screening around the eastern edge of the capital in venues from Stratford to Barbican between 1-12 July. Here are some of the highlights we’re want to have a butcher’s at:
Opening the festival is One Crazy Thing, a cringe-along comedy from Amit Gupta starring Ray Panthaki who won a best short film award a few years ago; here he's playing a daytime TV star whose career implodes following a sex tape scandal. Also on the bill is Panic, an East End-set drama starring Interstellar’s David Gyasi about an agoraphobic music journalist forced to face his fears, noirish and poetic. There’s also MLE (which stands for My Little Eye), a drama set in Hackney about an actress drawn into a cult. Game Of Thrones actor Aidan Gillen will be on hand for a Q&A about his new north London-set revenge thriller Still.
International films with a London twang
Americans James Franco and Kate Hudson star in Good People, a thriller set in the capital about a debt-ridden couple whose luck goes from bad to worse after they come across a pile of cash. From Austria there’s drama Where I Belong, which was shot around the East End at locations including Mile End’s The Palm Tree; it tells the story of a woman who moves to London to escape Nazi persecution.
Amy is the controversial film charting the decline of singer Amy Winehouse which has impressed critics but angered family members; it’s made by Asif Kapadia who previously won plaudits for Senna. On the brighter side, there’s an effervescent celebration of the east London drag scene in Dressed As A Girl, which features larger than life figures such as the legendary Jonny Woo, who who we met a wee while back. Estate, A Reverie documents the dying days of Hackney's Haggerston Estate which was recently demolished after 70 years. Steven Berkoff narrates experimental profile The Anarchist Rabbi, about a man who campaigned with the East End’s Jewish migrants 100 years ago. Then there’s Stevie G in which a Homerton-based filmmaker documents his attempts to reconnect with his estranged brother, whose life is pocked with bad choices and crime.
The festival puts an emphasis on new filmmakers with cooperation from London Calling, plus several platforms for short films. There’ll be 57 screenings, many of which have East End connections, with shorts featuring Ben Whishaw and Alice Lowe, new work from artist Gillian Wearing, plus a dance-themed strand in conjunction with the BalletBoyz. The event also includes expert-led workshops as part of the Mind The Gap scheme from 29 June-1 July. It's programmed by Rachael Castell and aims to help filmmakers who've worked themselves to the bone making one film and now need guidance with that difficult second album. Castell told us:
“We're at a pivotal point in the British film industry with cuts and overstretched funding models threatening the diversity of new voices. Mind The Gap has a wide range of speakers who have produced, funded and distributed some of the most successful films to come out of this country in the last twenty years, each of whom can offer advice on how to get the attention of the industry, develop a unique style and kickstart a career in film, beyond the first feature.”
Aside from the more familiar venues, the festival will also use a the secretive Masonic temple in the Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel, which is rarely open to the public (though of course, we've been there). There'll be a series of spooky movies plus a party The Macabre Masonic Masquerade, which promises ballroom action, immersive cinema, murder mystery masquerade plus bunraku puppetry and fetish cabaret. The party takes place on Saturday 4 July from 8pm. Tickets from £22.
The East End Film Festival runs from 1-12 July. Tickets now on sale here.