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East End Film Festival 2006

Kekexeli

Feature by Veronica Blake

RICHARD E. Grant will introduce the London premiere of his directorial debut Wah-Wah, at this year’s East End Film Festival 2006.

The event, which runs from Thursday, April 27 to Thursday, May 4, includes six UK premieres, masterclasses with award-winning filmmakers and a selection of the best independent films from around the world.

Reflecting the creativity and diversity of one of London’s most characterful localities, the East End Film Festival presents a week of eclectic independent cinema from London’s East End, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East – without neglecting other compass points like Rwanda, Swaziland, the North of England… and even Hollywood!

The festival opens on Thursday, April 27 with the London premiere of Wah-Wah (6pm, Genesis Mile End), the directorial debut feature from Richard E. Grant.

Best known for his work as an actor in offbeat classics like Withnail & I and How To Get Ahead In Advertising, Grant has successfully turned his talents to writing and directing.

Largely inspired by his own turbulent adolescence in 1960’s Swaziland amidst the end of British colonisation, the result is an engaging and poignant family drama that stars Gabriel Byrne, Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson and Julie Walters.

Not only will Grant introduce the festival screening of Wah-Wah, but he will also act as the festival Director In Residence. On Friday, April 28 he’ll take part in a Q&A session and will introduce Robert Altman’s 1975 masterpiece, Nashville (4pm, Genesis Mile End).

This year’s Producer In Residence is Stephen Woolley. With roots in the East End, he’s since produced dozens of acclaimed films such as Fever Pitch and Little Voice, while his long-established association with director Neil Jordan has yielded classics like Interview With The Vampire and Breakfast On Pluto.

He recently made the transition to director with Brian Jones biopic, Stoned. Stephen will take part in a Q&A following a screening of Oscar-winning, The Crying Game (Mon, May 1, 6pm, Genesis Mile End), for which Stephen also received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

The festival is also delighted to welcome Tony Grisoni, whose screenplay writing credits include Michael Winterbottom’s In This World and his Terry Gilliam collaborations, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas and Tideland.

In his Script To Screen masterclass (Tue, May 2, 6:15pm, Rio Cinema), he’ll discuss his most recent project, Brothers of The Head, a dark tale of a music promoter who turns a pair of Siamese Twins into a freakish rock’n’roll act.

For those with an interest in animation, Sunday, April 30 provides two unmissable workshops. First, Alan Gilbey hosts the Animation Writing Workout (1pm, Brady Arts Centre), essential for anyone with an interest in animation and screenwriting; whilst in The Corpse Bride: Behind the Veil (4:15pm, Genesis Mile End) Phil Dale, the lead animator on Tim Burton’s ghoulish hit, presents an inspirational illustrated talk.

For those content to watch films, rather than learning to make their own, the festival offers a rich selection of hand-picked independent features from around the globe.

Among the six UK premieres screening at this year’s East End Film Festival is Ski Jumping Pairs – Road to Torino (Sat, April 29, 8:30pm, Genesis Mile End). This hilarious, Jackass-influenced mockumentary from Japan follows the trials and tribulations of a physicist and his twin sons as they try to get a new extreme-sport accepted as an official Olympic event.

More sobering is Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (pictured) (Sun, April 30, 8pm, Genesis Mile End). Based on a true story, this compelling film follows a mountain patrol as they cross the harsh but beautiful wilderness of Tibet, endeavouring to protect the rare Tibetan antelope from poachers.

Exploring personal unfulfilment and sexual relations is the comic UK/US production indie Charlie’s Party (Mon, May 1, 3pm, Genesis Mile End), in which our formidable heroine coerces a group of old college friends to help celebrate her 30th birthday with a sex party.

Meanwhile, Grain in Ear (Mon, May 1, 6.30pm, Cineworld West India Quay) observes an exploited Korean immigrant in rural China, ready to wreak her revenge.

Truck Of Dreams (Tues, May 2, 6.30pm, Cineworld West India Quay) follows a young girl who abandons her life in rural India to follow her dreams with the help of a travelling cinema. This is the European premiere.

Other highlights include the Cannes Palm D’Or nominee, Election (Fri, April 28, 8.30pm, Cineworld West India Quay), a violent Hong Kong triad thriller starring Tony Leung.

Winner of the Un Certain Regard Foundation Grand Prix Award at Cannes 2005 is the dark Romanian drama, The Death Of Mr Lazarescu (Sun, April 30, 3pm, Rio Cinema) in which our 63-year-old protagonist falls ill and calls for an ambulance. He’s subsequently shuffled from one hospital to another – but as the night unfolds his health deteriorates.

Elsewhere, cult comedy icon John Shuttleworth travels to Britain’s northernmost point, accompanied by friends and a film crew, to discover if It’s Nice Up North (Mon, May 1, 6:15pm, Rio Cinema). This screening will be followed by a Q&A.

Much closer to home is a documentary exploring the spicy history of Brick Lane (Mon, May 1, 8pm, Rich Mix). Filmmaker and East End resident, Minoo Bhatia, will be present at the screening to discuss her experiences making the film.

The festival also provides a rare chance to see the first and arguably the best cinematic depiction of the Rwanda genocide. Raoul Peck’s Emmy-nominated feature Sometimes in April (Wed, May 3, 7pm, Rich Mix), starring Debra Winger, Oris Erhuero and Idris Elba, will be followed by a panel discussion Rwanda: Then and Now attended by representatives from the UN and the Rwandan Survivors’ Fund.

The festival draws to a close on Thursday, May 4 with another UK premiere, Walking On The Wild Side (6pm, Rio Cinema). This topical and provocative feature follows a group of boys as they flee the police in a ‘borrowed’ car, their revenge attack having just put a schoolboy bully into hospital in a critical condition.

Their journey literally becomes a transition from boyhood to manhood.

The festival particularly endeavours to give a voice to local filmmakers and local issues, hence included here is a showcase of films made by young people from this quarter of the Capital.

The East End Youth Programme (Sat April 29, 10am, Genesis Mile End), plus shorts by undergraduate film students from the area (Sat April 29, 2pm, Genesis Mile End), as well as numerous Q&A sessions, masterclasses, networking opportunities, and workshops will help nurture the talents of future East London filmmakers.

The East End Film Festival is a partnership between LB Tower Hamlets, LB Newham, Hackney Council, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and Fusion East. It is Supported by the National Lottery through the UK Film Council and Film London Regional Investment Fund for England and sponsored by Marsh UK and 3 Mills Studio’s.

Festival patrons include Danny Boyle, Steven Berkoff, Nitin Sawhney, Jason Solomons, Pawel Pawlikowski, Parminder Vir OBE, Jeremy Wooding and Stephen Woolley.

Tickets £5/£4 (concs) at Genesis Mile End, Rio Cinema, Rich Mix Bethnal Green.

Opening and Closing Night Galas £8/£6.50 (concs). Cineworld £6.80/£4.50 (concs)

For a festival pass £35, please email eastend@towerhamlets.gov.uk