East End Film Festival

Last updated
East End Film Festival
East End Film Festival logo.png
Location London, England
Website www.eastendfilmfestival.com

The East End Film Festival was one of the UK's largest film festivals. [1] It ceased all operations on 4 March 2020. The owner, Alison Poltock, explained that "the push to provide a more mainstream commercial offering is not for us." [2]


Founded in 2001, and operating in various venues across East London, the festival focussed on emerging British, Eastern European and Asian talent.


The East End Film Festival started in 2000. Originally set up by the East London borough of Tower Hamlets as a platform to recognise local filmmakers, its initial success led to a partnership in 2003 with neighbouring London Borough of Hackney, London Borough of Newham, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, and the Raindance Film Festival which ran Raindance East as part of its official selection. As a result of this partnership, the festival was rebranded as Raindance East from 2003 to 2005, but returned to its original East End Film Festival state in 2006. [3]

In 2006, the East End Film Festival opened with the London premiere of actor Richard E. Grant's directorial debut Wah-Wah . Grant attended the premiere, acted as the festivals Director In Residence, and took part in a Q&A session introducing a special festival screening of Robert Altman's Nashville . Producer In Residence Stephen Woolley also took part in a Q&A following a screening of his film The Crying Game . [4]

The 2007 festival opened with the world premiere of With Gilbert And George, a portrait of Spitalfields-based contemporary artists Gilbert And George, followed by a Q&A with director Julian Cole. The 2007 programme also included a preview of Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten plus a conversation with the film's director, Julien Temple. Nitin Sawhney, musician and patron of the festival, said: "Having been a patron of the festival for four years, it’s been really rewarding to watch the festival grow, reflecting the creative explosion that’s happening in east London at the moment." [5]

The festival opened in 2008 with the London premiere of independent British feature The Waiting Room . The film's director Roger Goldby and lead actor Ralf Little attended the opening night premiere. The screening was followed by a party at Beach Blanket Babylon in Shoreditch. The festival also included a programme of films exploring teenage angst (including two earlier films starring Ellen Page), a selection of new British features, films from Eastern Europe, as well as a collection of shorts. [6]

In 2009, the festival focused on films which portray aspects of East End and multicultural London life. [7] The program included City Rats , Elevator , British filmmakers Nicola and Teena Collins' debut film The End, Junior Eurovision Song Contest documentary Sounds Like Teen Spirit , discussion panel The London Perambulator, and Another Dimension And How To Get There. [8] There was also a screening of Not In Our Name at Amnesty International's Human Rights Action Centre. [9] The 2009 East End Film Festival trailer was directed and designed by Lucy Izzard, an animation director and illustrator at Slinky Pictures; it featured a variety of comic characters visiting various festival venues such as RichMix, the Whitechapel Gallery, and the Genesis Cinema. [10] In 2009, the festival incorporated almost 200 screenings and events, and had an attendance of over 30,000.[ citation needed ]

The 2010 East End Film Festival took place between the 22nd and 30 April. [11] Actress Jaime Winstone was announced as a new festival patron for 2010. [12] The full programme was announced at an event at The Brickhouse in East London on 23 March 2010 by festival director Alison Poltock. [13] The festival kicked off on 22 April with a preview screening of Barney Platts-Mills' 1969 film Bronco Bullfrog (set in Stratford, East London, and starring local kids) prior to its re-release that summer. [14] Highlights included: Mark Donne's The Rime of the Modern Mariner, narrated by musician Carl Barat; [15] SUS, based on the 1979 play about Margaret Thatcher's "stop and search" laws by Barrie Keeffe; and a series of events commemorating Rock Against Racism, the grassroots movement against the National Front in the late 1970s. [14] There was also a free screening of Alfred Hitchcock's classic silent film The Lodger in Spitalfields Market, accompanied by an improvised soundtrack performed live by Minima [14]

For the festival's 10th anniversary in 2011, it looked back on the story of east London with a programme of screenings and events featuring more than sixty feature films and hundreds of shorts, alongside a broad range of live, site-specific events and master classes. The festival opened on the 27th of April with the World Premiere gala screening of Roger Sargent's The Libertines: There Are No Innocent Bystanders [16] Frequently described as the UK's most important music photographer, Roger Sargent's debut feature is an all-access documentary that followed Carl Barat, Pete Doherty, John Hassall and Gary Powell for The Libertines' reunion in 2010. The East End Film Festival also offered the UK's second-ever screening of Ken Russell’s highly controversial 1971 film The Devils (film) . [17] EEFF 2011 saw the launch of Movie May Day, a May Bank Holiday weekend cornucopia of film and culture with hundreds of free screenings, projections, live music, quizzes, filmmaking competitions, and site-specific installations across the East End [18]

The 11th East End Film Festival opened on 3 July 2012 with the UK Premiere of a documentary about Amy Winehouse. [19] The festival foreshadowed the 2012 Summer Olympics’ heart-lifting, international coming together by leading with six days rich in cinema from all over the globe. The festival closed on the 8th of July with the UK Premiere of Armando Bo's El último Elvis, an acclaimed feature from Argentina about a delusional Elvis impersonator. [19] Armando Bo returned to the festival again in 2013 as a member of the panel judging the best feature films of the festival that year. The festival's fringe event, CineEast, took place on Sunday 1 July with a day of free events featuring short and feature film screenings, live music, talks, workshops, film trails and competitions, incorporating over 1000 films and site-specific events in over 100 different venues, including cinemas, cultural spaces, shops, restaurants and art galleries. [20]

The 12th East End Film Festival ran from the 25th of June until the 10th of July, opening with the world premiere of Mark Donne's documentary The UK Gold . The film was screened at the Troxy. The EEFF closed with Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman's Lovelace , a biopic retro period drama following the story of Linda Lovelace, a woman who is ‘used and abused by the porn industry at the behest of her coercive husband, before taking control of her life.’ [21] 2013's Best Film Award went to Halley, which follows the story of a security guard at a Mexico City gym whose health drastically begins to deteriorate. Sebastian Hofmann's award means he will return to the festival in 2014 as the EEFF's Director-in-Residence, and co-curator for the festival's Mexican focus in 2014.

The 13th East End Film Festival opened on 13 June 2014 with the world premiere of Dermaphoria, East End filmmaker Ross Clarke feature debut. The film features a strong cast led by Joseph Morgan, Ron Perlman and Kate Walsh, following the story of 'an inspired experimental chemist, wakes up in a New Orleans jail, accused of arson that's linked to an illegal drug-manufacturing ring. Suffering from amnesia, he's unexpectedly released on bail, determined to find his missing girlfriend.' [22] Genesis Cinema, the festival's original birthplace, was the host venue for the opening night. The festival closed on the 25th of June, with Jack Bond's The Blue Black Hussar, a documentary that explores the life of one of London's finest, Adam Ant. Bond captures throughout the film a spirit of defiance and the artistic endeavour of a man 'has lost the warpaint but this intriguing documentary finds his dandyish, swashbuckling nature intact.' [23]

The 14th East End Film Festival ran from the 1st of July until the 12th of July 2015, opening with the international premiere of Amit Gupta's third feature One Crazy Thing. Starring and produced by EEFF alumnus Ray Panthaki (Life Sentence, EEFF 2013), the film follows the premise on how a chance encounter in the city can reinvigorate you, as it deals with the possibilities of life in London. The festival closed with a documentary by Marc Silver, another EEFF alumnus. The British documentary maker once again travelled to the United States in his follow-up to Who is Dayani Cristal?, providing a ruthless dissection of the aftermath of a tragic incident at a Jacksonville, Florida gas station, which resulted in the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. [24]

The 15th edition of the East End Film Festival was opened on the 23rd of June 2016 with the world premiere of London-based Ian Bonhôte's feature debut Alleycats, featuring a fantastic turn by John Hannah (Four Weddings & A Funeral, Sliding Doors, The Mummy) as a shady MP, the film is a riotously entertaining, tense gauntlet ride through the streets of London (and East London), featuring a flock of rising British talent, all of them on wheels. [25] The EEFF closed with Steve Read, Rob Alexander's London premiere of Gary Numan: Android in La La Land, a documentary that follows the artist behind bonafide smash hits Cars and Are ‘Friends’ Electric? as he returns to the world stage, and moves to California. [26]


Each year, the festival handed out awards on the festival's closing night. These included:


Patrons included Danny Boyle, [27] Steven Berkoff, Tony Grisoni, Asif Kapadia, Michael Nyman, Pawel Pawilowski, Nitin Sawhney, Jason Solomons, Paraminder Vir, Jaime Winstone, Jeremy Wooding, Stephen Woolley, and Joe Wright.

Related Research Articles

British Independent Film Awards

The British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) is an organisation that celebrates, supports and promotes British independent cinema and filmmaking talent in United Kingdom. Nominations for the annual awards ceremony are announced in early November, with the ceremony itself taking place in early December.

Edinburgh International Film Festival Film festival in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is an annual fortnight of cinema screenings and related events taking place each June. Established in 1947, it is the world's oldest continually running film festival. EIFF presents both UK and international films, in all genres and lengths. It also presents themed retrospectives and other specialised programming strands. The 2016 edition was the Festival's 70th. Spain was the country focus in 2019. The 73rd edition of EIFF ran from 19 – 30 June 2019. The full programme was announced on 29 May 2019.

Sheffield Doc/Fest Documentary festival in Sheffield, England

Sheffield Doc/Fest, short for Sheffield International Documentary Festival (SIDF), is an international documentary festival and Marketplace held annually in Sheffield, England.

Ivy Film Festival

Ivy Film Festival (IFF) is the world's largest student-run film festival, hosted annually on the campus of Brown University. The Festival was started in 2001 by then-Brown juniors David Peck and Justin Slosky in collaboration with students of the other seven Ivy League schools including vice chairman Doug Imbruce from Columbia University. The founders' goal was to create a venue to showcase and honor the work of talented student filmmakers. The Ivy Film Festival currently accepts submissions from around the world for both its short film and screenplay competitions.

BFI London Film Festival Annual film festival held in London, United Kingdom

The BFI London Film Festival is an annual film festival founded in 1957 and held in the United Kingdom, running for two weeks in October with co-operation from the British Film Institute. It screens more than 300 films, documentaries and shorts from approximately 50 countries.

Leeds International Film Festival Film festival

The Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF) is the largest film festival in England outside London. Founded in 1987, it is held in November at various venues throughout Leeds, West Yorkshire. In 2015, the festival welcomed over 40,000 visitors and showed over 300 films from around the world, shorts and features, commercial and independent.

Cambridge Film Festival

The Cambridge Film Festival is the third-longest-running film festival in the UK. The festival historically took place during early July, but now takes place annually during Autumn in Cambridge. It is organised by the registered charity Cambridge Film Trust.

Green Mountain Film Festival

The first Green Mountain Film Festival took place in Montpelier, Vermont in 1997. In March 1999, a second festival was held and it has been an annual March event ever since. In 2010 the festival was extended to include a series of satellite screenings in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. In 2018 the festival will also host screenings in Essex Junction, VT at the Essex Cinema.

Reel Affirmations

Reel Affirmations (RA) is a non-profit, all-volunteer LGBT film festival in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1991 and held every year in mid-October, as of 2011 Reel Affirmations was one of the largest LGBT film festivals in the United States. Baltimore's Gay Life newspaper called it "one of the top three films festivals for the entire LGBT community." A 2007 guidebook claims it was one of the largest LGBT film festivals in the world. A listing of LGBT film festivals claims it is the largest all-volunteer film festival in the world.

The Abingdon Film Unit is an organisation based at Abingdon School, Abingdon-on-Thames, in Oxfordshire, England that enables pupils to make their own short documentary or animated films under the guidance of a team of industry professionals. The AFU was formed in 2003 by renowned British documentary maker Michael Grigsby and the school's Head of Drama, Jeremy Taylor. They led the Unit together until Grigsby's death at the age of 76 in March 2013. The Film Unit has been very successful with several films selected for screening at the National Film Theatre in London and others added to the National Film Archive.

<i>The Inheritance</i> (2007 film) 2007 British film

The Inheritance is micro-budget road movie following two Scottish brothers on a dark search to find their late father’s inheritance. John Robbins, writing for Raindance Film Festival said the film is a "dark, touching look at brotherhood, identity and the stereotype of the Scotsman's inability to express his feelings."

Side by Side (film festival)

"Side by Side" Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival is an international film festival that seeks to explore the issues of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender (LGBT) through art cinema. Since 2008 it has taken place every autumn in Russia, in Saint Petersburg. In addition, various special events are held almost every month, and since 2009 film showings and discussions have also been conducted in other parts of Russia.

The London Russian Film Festival is an annual film festival, launched by Academia Rossica in 2007. The festival is aimed to present cinema in Russian language to an English speaking audience. All films are shown in original language, with English subtitles. The film programme includes feature films as well documentaries and animated films. Apart from the film screenings, the festival encompasses Q&A sessions with actors, directors and producers presenting the films, discussion events about contemporary Russian films and culture, and film showings specially for children.

UK Jewish Film Festival

The UK Jewish Film Festival is an annual film festival dedicated to world cinema that explores Jewish life, history and culture worldwide. It was founded in 1997 and takes place in November, in London and in other cities in the United Kingdom.


Branchage is a film festival held in the Channel Island of Jersey. The festival was founded in 2008 by filmmaker Xanthe Hamilton to bring film and arts to the island. It is a mix of site-specific film screenings held across the island in churches, castles, barns, and bunkers alongside more conventional arts spaces and cinemas, alongside film and art commissions, live soundtracks to film, short film programmes, industry networking and spectacular themed parties mixing live performance, name DJs and cabaret.

Tantric Tourists is an independent British feature documentary film directed by Alexander Snelling and produced though Slack Alice Films by Kirsty Allison and Alexander Snelling. The film was shot entirely in India over a period of two weeks and is essentially a road movie, featuring various forms of transport, mainly bus, but also train, plane, boat, elephant, bicycle and rickshaw.

Gidi Avivi is an Israeli film producer, the founder of Vice Versa Films.

<i>Mass E Bhat</i> 2014 British film

Mass E Bhat is a 2014 British documentary film directed by Hannan Majid and Richard York. The film weaves together the stories of children living and working in Bangladesh.

Norwich Film Festival is an international film festival focusing on short films. It is based in Norwich, England, and was established in 2009. The eleventh edition will be held in a hybrid format in November 2021.

Tartan Features is a filmmaking network and distribution platform based in Scotland. It supports the production of micro-budget feature films.


  1. "East End Film Festival - preview". 6 June 2013.
  2. https://www.eastendfilmfestival.com/farewell [ bare URL ]
  3. IndieLondon preview
  4. IndieLondon review
  5. "Film London, 17 April 2008". Archived from the original on 3 May 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
  6. James Rocarols, BBC Film Network, 17 April 2009
  7. "Nick Roddick, Evening Standard, 14 April 2009". Archived from the original on 14 March 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
  8. Amnesty International
  9. Trailer directed and designed by Lucy Izzard at Slinky Pictures
  10. www.eastendfilmfestival.com
  11. "", David Jenkins, Time Out.
  12. 1 2 3 Sheila Johnston, The Arts Desk, 23 March 2010
  13. NME.com
  14. https://www.nme.com/news/the-libertines/55226 [ bare URL ]
  15. "Ken Russell interview: The last fires of film's old devil". 28 April 2011.
  16. "Blogger".
  17. 1 2 "Amy Winehouse doc to premiere at East End Film Festival 2012".
  18. http://www.eastendfilmfestival.com/cineeast [ bare URL ]
  19. "Lovelace (2013) - IMDb".
  20. "Dermaphoria".
  21. "The Blue Black Hussar".
  22. "3½ Minutes".
  23. "Alleycats".
  24. "Gary Numan: Android in La La Land".
  25. East End Film Festival