This year’s East End Film Festival returns to London from 23 June – 3 July and as ever represents a celebration of the communal power of cinema, from British indies to the most powerful, mould-breaking new films from around the world. Plus parties and live cross arts events! Here head of programming Andrew Simpson lays out ‘Six of the Best’ from this year’s fest. Check out the full programme at www.eastendfilmfestival.com.
Steve Coogan in Shepherds & Butchers
The UEL Centrepiece Gala for 2016, Oliver Schmidt’s Shepherds & Butchers is a classical courtroom potboiler with powerful turns from Steve Coogan (in one of his increasingly impressive serious roles) and Andrea Riseborough. A gripping Sidney Lumet style thriller with a powerful message, it’s screening on Wednesday 29 June at Hackney Picturehouse.
We Are The Flesh
A grisly, wild kaleidoscope of a debut championed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Carlos Reygadas and Alfonso Cuaron, We Are The Flesh is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Set in a post-apocalyptic Mexico, a mysterious hermit is building a strange womb-like structure in the basement of an abandoned office building. When a young brother and sister arrive seeking shelter, he offers them protection in exchange for…well, that part’s a surprise – involving rebirth, cannibalism, and heavy amounts of getting down. Prepare to be wowed on Friday 1 July at Hackney Picturehouse.
Jim: The James Foley Story
Even within a festival that embraces the most timely, potent new documentaries, this may be the most prescient and relevant of the bunch. When war correspondent James Foley was brutally murdered live on the internet by the forces of ISIS, the shock and horror was palpable. Brian Oakes’ insightful, often devastating film explores Foley’s life, what drove him to enter the dangerous world of conflict journalism, and the permanent marks that his life and death left on those around him. Screening on Wednesday 29 June at RichMix.
A couple of years ago, everybody was rightly enraptured by Matt Johnson’s debut feature The Dirties. A hilarious, meta and highly disturbing mockumentary about teenage outcasts and high school massacres, Johnson has somehow managed to go one better with Operation Avalanche, the story of a CIA film crew going undercover at NASA during the space race. Toying with the notion that the moon landing was a ginormous hoax, it’s a rip-roaring ride through the world of conspiracy theories, Cold War paranoia and the clash of fact and fiction. Screening on Saturday 2 July at Hackney Picturehouse.
The mermaid horror musical of this (or any other) year, The Lure is an absolutely barnstorming debut from Polish director Agnieszka Smoczynska. Presented as a fairytale set to a phenomenal soundtrack, it sees two amphibious women emerge from the sea, and take up residence in a nightclub. Quickly installed as the city’s newest cabaret stars, their timeless bond will be challenged when one of them falls for a handsome musician. An enormous hit at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, see it Sunday 26 June at Hackney Picturehouse.
The DIY music firestarter that launched the careers of a host of rock, punk and hip hop stars gets loving, celebratory treatment. Featuring the likes of Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi), along with a host of aficionados and musicians still committed to the format, this is a film for anyone who loves music, and feels the lure of the analogue. Presented at the festival by director Zack Taylor, and the inventor of the compact cassette, Lou Ottens. Screening at the Genesis Cinema on Monday 27 June.