As happening East London filmmakers (hashtags and high fives all round) we just had to visit the East End Film Festival. It is still in full swing so if you haven’t yet been, go! (It ends on Sunday 12th July.) I wanted to pass on some of our highlights so you can look out for them in the future.
Firstly, The Seventh Fire is a gripping documentary about Native American gangs in Minnesota directed by Jack Pettibone Riccobono. The film follows two men on very different journeys: Rob, starting his fifth jail term and questioning his life choices, and Kevin, Rob’s seventeen-year-old protege, weighing up the merits of becoming a big time dope dealer.
The Seventh Fire is beautifully shot and has such a clear narrative that one can forget this is a documentary, which makes it a pleasure to watch. However, it also asks some uncomfortable questions about why American society lets its people get left behind in such an obvious and tragic way.
Sean Spencer’s feature debut, Panic, is a visually arresting thriller with a superbly effective city soundscape. After a horrific attack Andrew retreats to the safety of his flat where he slowly becomes obsessed with a woman living in the flat opposite. When she suddenly disappears he tries to find her leading him down a rabbit hole into East London’s ugly underbelly of people trafficking. This film forces us to confront the everyday reality of illegal immigrants trying to survive but also explores ideas of urban isolation and what it means to connect with another human. I loved the intensity that jumps out from this film, shot in just three weeks.
Finally, to the BAFTA nominated short film Three Brothers written and directed by Aleem Khan. It focusses on Hamid, a boy in his teens, who struggles to care for his younger brothers after their father abandons them. I really enjoyed how the film loving portrays Hamid as mother hen – literally, he tries to incubate three eggs – but also as the emotional rock that their small family is built on. This clearly has an effect on Hamid and there are some poignant moments capturing his isolation.
The East End Film Festival does a wonderful job of bringing features, documentaries and shorts together in a high quality, broad programme. It is great to see the independent cinemas that we are so lucky to have in the East End play host to such excellent films. Long may it continue.