East End Film Festival: Celebrating Independent Films

Since this years film festival circuit is already in full swing with Cannes and Berlinale already having passed, we thought we’d take a look at one of the most exciting upcoming festivals in the UK, the East End Film Festival and cover why these film festivals are so important to the up and coming independent filmmaker.

The East End Film Festival was founded in 2000 and is now one of the UK’s largest festivals for film screening over 70 feature films. The EEFF draws in around 30,000 attendees every year who are treated to the films of global and local independent filmmakers. A festival such as this prides itself on finding supporting and exhibiting the work of first and second time filmmakers. It is this focus on new talent that makes festivals such as the EEFF vitally important to the film industry, particularly the independent sector.

This year’s jury at the EEFF is full of talented industry insiders. Noaz Deshe is the Director in residence; Noaz is a director who has had his films shown at the Venice, San Fransisco, and Sundance film festivals. One of his more notable films is White Shadow, which won the Best Feature Award at last years East End Film Festival. Ross Clarke, a British Director and writer is also included on the Jury this year. Clarke’s debut feature was Dermaphoria, which opened at the EEFF last year. Clarke also co-directed the documentary Skid Row. Scottish novelist and playwright Irvine Welsh is the third member of the EEFF jury for 2015. Welsh has a knack for depicting the brutality of urban life and two of his more famous novels have been adapted to the big screen, with Filth and Trainspotting both been hits with critics and audiences. Viv Albertine, a guitarist in the bad The Stilts is another member of this year’s jury. Viv has released a solo album and her own autobiography along with working in the film industry as a director and actor. Last, but certainly not least on the main jury at this years festival is London born director Amma Asante. Amma directed last years hit period drama Belle (which we reviewed here) that was a critical success for the young British director.




Alongside the main jury at the festival, there is the documentary jury consisting of Kate Smurthwaite, Orlando Von Einsiedel, Xiaolu Guo and Rita Daniels. The short film jury includes Kristen Beith, Steve Oram, Sophie Mayer, Mustapha Kseibati and Emma Dabiri. The sole juror for the Accession Award this year is Frank Turner. Turner will be juring the soundtrack category, he is an English singer and songwriter who has released five albums and is awaiting the release of his upcoming album Positive Songs.

The festival has multiple events running throughout the two weeks. One of the events is Athens Now; this event is at the Whitechapel Gallery, which showcases radical films from Greece. Blanck Mass X is also running during the festival, this event is a tribute to Italian horror films from the 1970’s. Mark it Zero Film Quiz is a quiz for the silly, alcohol induced film fans held at the Trapeze Bar on Great Eastern Street. The Zoom screening at the EEFF supports the initiative from The British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust that allowed deaf filmmakers produce their first or second short for TV. The biggest pull of the events for me personally is the Bioscope: Charlie Chaplin event. As a huge fan of the acting and filmmaking genius of Charlie Chaplin, this event gives everything a Chaplin fan could want. The event will celebrate silent cinema including a live accompaniment and unveil a special commemorative plaque. The festival has many more events on show throughout the two weeks for the crowd to make their way to, so they can enhance their film festival experience.

After covering what the festival offers the paying customer, here is what a festival like the EEFF offers new filmmakers.

The EEFF offers new filmmakers their best chance to get his/her work seen by a wider audience if successful in their submission. Whether or not their film is met with rapturous applause from its audience or a polite clap, the filmmaker gains valuable recognition for completing a feature project and getting it screened at a major international film festival. Obviously those who manage to gain critical approval stand in better stead for their film to be picked up by distributors and getting a wider release. The exposure a new filmmaker can gain through festivals like EEFF is priceless. By becoming an official selection of a festival your film is guaranteed to play in at least on theatre to an actual audience, now this might not seem like much but getting this first step can often be the hardest for independent newcomers.




The East End Film Festival also offers their Mind The Gap Industry Training for new filmmakers. This programme consists of “Three days of carefully curated talks, workshops and events designed to offer every insight, top tip and wise word to anyone hoping to make a career in feature film.” Programmes like this are incredibly important to new filmmakers if they want to stand a chance in the industry teaching them how to avoid the pitfalls that most new directors make that cause them never to make a second feature. Its this kind of industry training that can make or break the young careers of first and second time filmmakers, there is nothing more valuable than training from industry insiders.

This is an insight into why film festivals in the UK are incredibly important to the UK film industry and new filmmakers. Festivals offer a chance for filmmakers to get a foothold into the industry and get their projects seen by a wide audience. Other than the appeal for filmmakers to get their work shown, film festivals are wonderful experiences for film fans to go and experience a wide range of films in an environment of fellow film lovers.

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