The Wire's Dominic West narrates East End Film Festival movie exposing secretive global tax haven network
PUBLISHED: 18:39 20 June 2013 | UPDATED: 18:39 20 June 2013
Stoke Newington filmmaker highlights 'disgusting' inequality in The UK Gold, with a sound-score from Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja.
A film narrated by The Wire actor Dominic West, exposing the secretive network of tax havens around the globe, will take centre stage at the opening night gala of the East End Film Festival.
With a sound-score from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, The UK Gold focuses on Father William Taylor, a vicar from St Thomas in Stamford Hill who ran for election in the City of London in March, standing on issues like tax avoidance.
It follows his journey as he tried to comprehend the estimated £21trillion sitting in tax havens around the world, and the impact of the financial chicanery taking place on his doorstep in the world’s financial capital, the City of London.
The UK Gold’s director – journalist, filmmaker and Stoke Newington resident Mark Donne – took inspiration from last year’s Jubilee and the Olympics.
“Everything was festooned in Union Jacks and there was such an outpouring of patriotism,” said Mr Donne.
“But the other big news story was tax avoidance, the most anti-patriotic thing you can do, to take resources out of the country.”
The UK is the world leader in tax avoidance, with a network of havens around the world where taxes are levied at zero or low rates enabling individuals and corporations to establish shell subsidiaries so as not to pay tax.
In making the film, Mr Donne garnered the views and voices of British politicians, hedge fund masters, Vanity Fair investigative journalist Nicolas Shaxson, Private Eye’s Richard Brooks and Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow.
One of the talking heads in the film explains: “The City of London is the head office, and Cayman, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle Of Man, they’re the branch offices.”
Mr Donne said: “This stuff is prohibitively complex. I talk to friends who are bright and their eyes pixellate, they just don’t understand, but I wanted to tell the story in a human way.”
The issue is topical, with world leaders at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland this week agreeing to a deal to rewrite global rules to stamp out tax evasion and stop companies shifting profits between countries to limit their tax payments.
However, aid agencies warned that the measures did not go far enough, and expressed concern that new registers revealing who owns and controls companies would not be made public.
Mr Donne is mindful of labelling the practice with terms like ‘sinister’. “It’s not some kind of conspiracy, it’s all the more frightening because it’s legal,” he said.
“But it’s inherently wrong, if you have a small business you are paying 25 per cent tax but multinationals are paying zero. It’s a chronically unfair playing field, it is just disgusting.”
The 12th East End Film Festival will open on Tuesday, June 25, at The Troxy in Limehouse, with the World Premiere of The UK Gold, followed by a special musical performance.
For the EEFF’s full programme see www.eastendfilmfestival.com