The East End Film Festival (EEFF) is back in its springtime slot – 11 to 29 April, to be precise – for the first time since 2011, to wake up the senses of cinephiles thawing out from a long cold winter of “let’s just watch Netflix instead”.
Last night, the EEFF team released details of over 60 events, encompassing the fest’s usual anarchic mix of premieres, indies, documentaries, shorts and more, to be held at venues ranging from Homerton’s Castle Cinema in the north to Genesis Cinema in the south.
2017’s festival featured post-apocalyptic parties, films from around the globe, and even a visit from Rupert Murdoch (who all things considered will probably steer clear this year). So far, so unpredictable, but join us as we try to break down what’s in store this time around…
EEFF’s opening night gala on 11 April will feature a screening of one of six flicks coming to Rio Cinema in Dalston in the following weeks. The subject is Jean-Michel Basquiat, the colourful, polemical black American artist whose popular embracing following his death in 1988 has fed into a recent Tate retrospective, along with many other celebratory shows worldwide (as well as $80 dolls and Uniqlo t-shirts).
Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat deals with days well before all that, using director Sara Driver’s own firsthand No Wave knowledge alongside reminiscences from other contemporaries to paint a vivid picture of that artistic era in New York. Driver will take part in a Q&A, and the afterparty will be full Studio 54 glitz.
Soon afterwards on 14 April, a Cannes Film Festival Best Actress-winning performance will be on show in Fatih Akin’s In The Fade. This German/French production centres on Diane Kruger as Katja, a Hamburg resident who not only has to contend with the death of her Kurdish husband and their son in a neo-Nazi bomb attack, but also the political and personal outrages of the following trial.
Other films coming to the Rio include a pair of punk rock tales – a fictional drama based on US rock band and former Kerrang darlings The Icarus Line (The Icarus Line Must Die, 28 April, 4pm) and Punk Voyage, the story of Finnish quartet Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (PKN).
PKN’s members all have autism or Down’s syndrome, and were the stars of The Punk Syndrome – a 2012 doc beloved of many a DIY music fan and awards judge. This sequel charts their 2015 Eurovision entry, the one-minute-27-second blast of ‘Aina mun pitää’, and features some internal strife along the way – some enjoyable grit in an inspirational journey. This will play afternoons from 14 to 21 April.
A line-up of short films on the 22 April, under the title On The Other Side From You, together with Turkish-made, Middle Eastern refugee thriller More (25 April) rounds out the Rio’s programming.
As well as showing the aforementioned Boom For Real… on 15 April, Castle Cinema on Brooksby’s Walk, Homerton, will host a double dose of documentaries on consecutive Thursdays. Industrial Accident: The Story Of Wax Trax Records (26 April) has a Hackney resonance – many say industrial music started at Throbbing Gristle’s ‘death factory’ on Martello Street, London Fields, so the story of the genre’s biggest American label (complete with interviews with bands from Bauhaus to the Foo Fighters) should be of great interest to the borough’s many electronic noise weirdos.
The following day (27 April), Annika Berg’s Team Hurricane comes to the Castle. The film is not just a whizz-bang transfer of the colourful Tumblr/Instagram-derived aesthetics of ‘millenials’ to the big screen – Berg also aims to put some meat on these stereotypical bones, diving in to the predominantly female cast of characters’ radicalism as well as their personal journeys.
Moving into Shoreditch, Rich Mix is also a key venue for EEFF. Among the 30 announced screenings, highlights include comedian Josie Long’s first foray into screenwriting, a romance set to the backdrop of a right-wing coup, Super November (20 April, 6pm), the UK premiere of Argentinian family drama Tigre (15 April, 4pm) and a documentary about mainstream-turned-surreal jokester Terry Alderton, Comic, to be shown on 18 April and followed by a recording of the popular The Comedian’s Comedian podcast afterwards featuring Alderton himself.
New Brit-flick Pin Cushion will also get a ‘Spotlight Screening’ at Rich Mix on 22 April. The film, starring Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of It, Getting On) as an eccentric psychic, whose cosseted daughter Iona (played by newcomer Lily Newmark) begins to find her own identity away from the home. Resort-based creepiness in the form of Time Share (directed by Sebastian Hofmann, winner of EEFF’s Best Film Award for Halley in 2013) and a documentary feature on nonagenarian agitator Harry Leslie Smith’s group of Pensioners United will also land at the Bethnal Green Road cinema as part of the festival.
The final Hackney venue reinvents a space that is familiar to many of us – St. Joseph’s Hospice. Shortness of Death has been put together by EEFF in concert with staff from the hospice, and will present four short (15 mins or less) films tacking different cultural approaches to mortality: Death And Penelope, His Wake, Say Goodbye and Sparta North.
The exact date of the St. Joseph’s event has not yet been set in (head)stone, so for this and all other events, it’s well worth keeping an eye on EEFF’s website, Twitter and Facebook.
For an even more bumper East End Film Festival preview, including the best of the films to be screened outside of Hackney and other coming attractions and exciting announcements, pick up a copy of next month’s Hackney Citizen, out Friday 6 April
For tickets and more info: eastendfilmfestival.com