Festival Focus: East End Film Festival Programme Preview

Posted June 9th, 2016 by Matt Turner


Since humble beginnings at the start of the new millennium, East End Film Festival (EEFF) has grown into one of the capital’s most interestedly and diversely programmed festivals. Having been through a number of iterations since it’s establishment, first linked to Tower Hamlets council, then Raindance; since 2006 the East End Film Festival has stood alone as a fiercely independent, reliable fixture in London’s film festival circuit. In that period, they’ve presented the best in independent film from the local area and wider, premiering features from Ben Wheatley and Noah Baumbach in recent years, and hosting guests like Ken Russell, Tracey Emin, Julian Temple, Clive Owen and Mike Figgis. This year’s programmes offers films, concerts, guests and events of a similar calibre. We look at five things playing at this year’s fest at end of the month that you should take a look at.

Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi)


Following the Frames of Rep preview screening this week, EEFF offer another chance to catch Gianfranco Rosi’s Berlin grand prize winner. The doc, apparently very measured but also potent, covers Lampedusa, the Mediterranean Sea island that tens of thousands migrants have passed through in the last few decades. Focusing on one child who lives there, as well as the struggles of migrants passing through, it looks to be a fresh angle on a recently much cinematically covered, but continually pertinent subject. EEFF will screen the film at the Genesis on the 26th June with two related shorts, and it deserves as wide an audience as possible.

The Grind (Nosa Eke)


A new film/show/web-series/something from a talented recent NFTS graduate, The Grind follows a group of young people as they seek to make their way in London’s creative scene. If the teaser and the hype are anything to go by, this could break out in a major way. With it focusing on what it’s like to be young, passionate and determined, and the twofold promise and difficulty this city offers, it’s a perfect project to start it’s journey at EEFF. The Grind world-premieres at EEFF, with a party afterwards.

Adult Life Skills (Rachel Tunnard)


This debut feature from SP filmmaker Rachel Tunnard has been gathering a lot of attention recently. Featuring Jodie Whittaker as the lead, giving a performance that is meant to be remarkable, the film follows a grieving girl who is living in her mother’s shed, who is coaxed out of isolation by her friends and family. An extension of Tunnard’s popular short Emotional Fusebox, Adult Life Skills debuted in Tribeca, winning the Nora Ephron prize there. EEFF will have Tunnard in for a Q+A after their screening.

Little Men (Ira Sachs)

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The third film from American filmmaker Ira Sachs, Little Men is one of the higher profile films in EEFF’s programme. Following two terrific adult relationship dramas (Keep the Lights On, Love is Strange), Little Men sees Sachs turn his attention more towards children, following a friendship between two thirteen year olds who connect after the death of a grandfather. Sachs makes films about places as much as people, and the subplot of Little Men surrounds the struggles of the shop one of their parent’s have to run in the wake of the grandfather. Sachs is an assured filmmaker capable of finding the nuance in all kinds of human drama, and Little Men looks to be another success from a filmmaker who has, so far, done little wrong.

Operation Avalanche (Matt Johnson)


Another film from a American filmmaker with a profile, doc/fic line-blurrer Matt Johnson follows The Dirties – where he embedded himself and working partner Owen Williams in an active high school in order to make a film about high school shootings that forced viewers to question what they were feeling as much as what they were seeing – with Operation Avalanche, about a similarly slippery topic, the faking of the moon landing by the CIA. Playing members of the CIA’s A/V department, with Operation Avalanche, Johnson and Williams again infiltrated real locations, not least NASA and Shepparton Studios, for their new genre-bending faux-doc. Bought by Lionsgate 8 months ahead of the premiere, Operation Avalanche seems an ambitious effort from a disruptive filmmaking duo.

East End Film Festival runs June 23rd to July 3rd, in cinemas across London. You can pick up a physical copy of the programme across East London or inside this Saturday’s Guardian newspaper.


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