Action! East End Film Festival heads for Hackney: 200 flicks to be premiered over week and a half
PUBLISHED: 12:22 20 June 2016 | UPDATED: 13:02 20 June 2016
The East End Film Festival returns on Thursday with an "enormous" international programme, reflecting the issues and values affecting communities in Hackney - like rising property prices and the refugee situation.
Founded in 2000 and now one of the UK’s largest film festivals with an audience of more than 30,000, many of its premieres, industry masterclasses, pop-up screenings and live events take place in Hackney venues like Dalston’s Rio cinema.
While the festival has secured major titles due to be released, like Alleycats – Ian Bonhonte’s debut thriller set in the streets of London, which opens the festival at the gala night – not all the titles screened will ever get a UK-wide release.
Alison Poltock, festival director, said: “We are a premiere festival – it might be the one and only time the audience see the film at a cinema, especially if it is foreign.
“Many of the films also have a Q and A session, so we provide not just an exhibition platform but a chance to learn more about the issues explored and for the filmmakers to talk about the method behind making their titles.”
She continued: “It was a much smaller affair back when it started, but I’d say our ethos of what we are trying to do as a festival hasn’t changed. I’m proud of this year’s programme, in that it very much ties into our ethos of reflecting the issues and the values that affect the communities of east London.”
Day of Refuge sees a whole day of programming on Sunday June 26 at Genesis Cinema, with representatives from the Refugee Council taking part in panel discussions around films which are screening, to coincide with Refugee Week, and a free spoken word event with refugee poets reading out their work.
There is a focus on Turkish film this year, thanks to programming from the director-in-residence Tolga Karacelik, whose film was chosen as the best feature by a jury last year. The EEFF has also partnered with the London Bengali Festival for the premiere of Shongram – a romantic drama set during the 1971 liberation struggle of Bangladesh, introduced by the filmmaker Munsur Ali.
The festival runs from June 23 until July 3.
Putting migrants on big screen
Hackney Migrant Centre collaborated with the directors of Undocument to produce a fictional drama recounting four interlinked stories – each bearing witness to the complex daily dilemmas faced by illegal immigrants.
Directors Amin Bakhshian and Kyla Simone Bruce carried out “tonnes of research”, collaborating with the refugee drop-in centre in Stoke Newington’s St Mary’s Church, to ensure the film was as close to real life as possible. They raised the cash through crowdfunding to shoot the movie in Iran, Greece and the East End. Kyla says the low-budget film, which was edited at a studio in Hackney Wick, is a “labour of love”.
“As film makers we didn’t want to push an agenda – we want to show people what is happening at the moment. We didn’t want to say whether it was right or wrong,” she explained. It premieres at 8.30pm on July 2 at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green.
The dark side of property
Gentrification and the malevolence of the property ladder take on a disturbing edge in God’s Acre, a thriller set in Hackney about a boozed-up, agoraphobic and unscrupulous former property developer.
It is filmed on location in a house in Corbridge Crescent, close to Broadway Market and Regent’s Canal where property prices are at all all-time high.
A psychological thriller, God’s Acre tracks the developer as he plunges head-first into oblivion.
It is director J P Davidson’s first feature film and was nominated for “best UK feature” at the Raindance festival.
He said: “Essentially, it’s about a single man rooted to a single grim location trying to uncover his reasons for being there.
“And it’s about our unhealthy attachment to property and where that can lead. We spend far too much time worrying about what to buy, where to buy, how much to buy it for and what colour our walls should be. It’s become the ultimate aspiration for a single generation.”
The film screens at 8.30pm on Tuesday June 28 at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green Road followed by a Q&A.
Filming the Overground
“A tiny little map of what is happening now” – that’s how legendary Hackney author Iain Sinclair describes the London Overground line.
The orbital train line, which opened in 2007, is the subject of a film following Sinclair and artist, writer and film-maker Andrew Kötting as they traverse it on foot.
Director John Roger’s movie London Overground was undertaken for the purposes of Sinclair’s book, which bears the same name.
But the film’s journey takes place over a year, as opposed to the day’s walk written about by Sinclair.
The documentary tracks Sinclair’s insights into the changing face of London and his fascination with the “spin-drier of capitalism, whirling banknotes around the city”, which he dubs the “Ginger Line” – as it is coloured orange on the Tube map – as well as his thoughts on the changing face of London.
The premiere takes place at the Rio Cinema in Kingsland Road on July 2 at 3.45pm.