Good films deserve to be celebrated, that’s why we’re so fond of the East End Film Festival; now in it’s 16th year, the EEFF never fails to provide stunning film experiences to those lucky enough to go. This year, they’re breaking tradition a little, by moving out of their summer slot and into June for five long weekends of fantastic films, focusing on five essential EEFF themes: utilising non-cinema venues, engaging with diverse audiences, supporting emerging filmmakers, breaking artistic boundaries and premiering bold, challenging and vital new films. Let’s see what they have to offer this year.
Over June 2nd and 3rd, the festival beings with East End Outdoors, featuring free outdoor screenings of iconic musicals at Old Spitalfields Market, in partnership with Films For Food supporting Tower Hamlets Food Bank (free admission with donation of non-perishable food items). You can catch a matinee of family classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, an East End showing of West Side Story, and a personal favourite of mine, 2016’s La La Land. The following weekend, from June 8th to 11th June, is all about East End Roots; it celebrates the energy, artistry, attitude and cultural mix of London’s East End, showing films and events with local resonance. This includes the world premiere screening of My Name is Lenny, telling the story of legendary boxer Lenny Mclean, and Disposession: The Great Social Housing Swindle, ruthlessly exposing Britain’s housing crisis, then followed by an election night panel. If Shakespeare in your thing, then you won’t want to miss A Caribbean Story, Shakirah Bourne’s Barbados-set re-telling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You can also check out the world premiere of Dana Dana, about an Iraqi musician forced to choose between his big break and his refugee status.
From the 15th to the 18th June, it’s all about East End Discovery, dedicated to the best work currently without UK distribution. These include Gholam, about a man haunted by his past with a future descending into inertia; Forgotten Man, about a troubled young actor with an East End theatre company for the homeless romances a wealthy out of towner, and Arifa, focusing on a young British pakistani woman who becomes fixated on an oddball gamer, just as her absentee father returns. S|T|R|A|Y|S is an unflinching drama that explores a group of friends affected by financial decline, and Eastenders James Alexandrou (The old Martin Fowler) directs his first feature with The Show, about a young TV star confronting grief and fame in the run up to her stage debut. Though if it’s documentaries you’re after, look no further than The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, Dennis Skinner: Nature of the Beast, Follow the Money and Drib, all taking a look at various interesting and relevant topics. This weekend also includes EEFF’s industry focused ‘Unpacking British Cinema’, which this year unpacks The Hippopotamus with an extended panel from the cast and crew, as well as launching the new £10,000 Mind the Gap ‘TransitFilm Award”.
June 22nd-25th is all about East End Submerge, all about cross arts and culture, music and mayhem, and a lots of partying. We’re all down for that, especially when Twin Peaks is involved; that’s right ,you can attend a costumed Twin Peaks Ball that takes place at Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel, and you can also attend screenings of BBC4’s nuclear war drama Threads, and an Alex Cox double bill of Walker and Straight to Hell. This weekend also includes a celebration of art with Adam Carr’s My Name is Swan and other special events at Castle Cinema, the new crowd funded cinema in Hackney, but perhaps the most interesting event this weekend will be the premiere of documentary Brexitannia, a funny and non-judgemental look at new populist politics, followed by an open debate with all sides represented. There’ll certainly be some disagreement, but hopefully we’ll agree it’s a great film.
Finally, from June 29th-2nd July, it’s all about independent premieres at East End Headline. Check out a hand picked selection of indie films on their way to British cinemas, including Butterfly Kisses, Rafael Kapelinksi’s raw documentary style take on three teenagers battling their demons, and All Eyez On Me, Benny Boon’s biopic on iconic rap artist Tupac, who was tragically murdered at just 25. Other premieres include Tom of Finland, a celebration and examination of Touko Valio Laaksonen, one of the stand out LGBT icons, as well as death sentence drama The Penalty, and Joshua Z. Weinstein’s Menashe, focusing on a widower battling for custody of his son is an orthodox Jewish community.
For more information on these screenings and other events taking place, check out their website for all the details, and make you’re available for what will most definitely an essential month for film fans.