East End Film Festival ends with awards – movieScope

The 12th East End Film Festival (EEFF) came to a close on Wednesday 10 July, after what was the festival’s longest ever run. With an emphasis on new and distinctive filmmakers, first- and second-time directors were in competition for EEFF’s prestigious Best Feature award, the winner of which is invited back the following year as Director in Residence. This year’s winning film was the staggering debut feature Halley – chosen by a jury comprising last year’s winner Armando Bo (El Ultimo Elvis), The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw, Terrence Malick’s producer and co-founder of Tugg, Inc. Nicolas Gonda, My Brother The Devil director Sally El Hosaini, and musician, filmmaker and actor RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. Presented at EEFF, in partnership with London MexFest, this tale of urban loneliness by first-time filmmaker Sebastian Hofmann follows a security guard at a Mexico City gym whose physical deterioration contrasts wildly with the healthy bodies around him. Halley director Sebastian Hofmann will be invited to be EEFF’s Director In Residence in 2014, and the festival is set to include a focus on Mexican cinema.

This year’s Best Documentary jury comprised writer and filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, musician Mark Stewart, producer Rachel Wexler and head programmer of CPH:DOX Niklas Engstrøm. Marina Zenovich’s Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic and Mark Donne’s The UK Gold will share the award. The former delves into the mind of a troubled genius, one of the world’s greatest stand-up comedians whose television and film career veered between triumph and disaster; while the latter exposes the fundamental role the City of London plays in the secretive network of tax havens and tax avoidance.

The Best Soundtrack jury comprised The Cure drummer Jason Cooper and The Horrors bassist Rhys Webb. They chose Underworld frontman Karl Hyde’s beautiful and mesmerizing score for The Outer Edges, which he performed live as part of EEFF’s closing night gala.

Supported by Prime Focus, the Best Short jury comprised multiple BAFTA winning short filmmaker Martina Amati, director of Rushes Soho Shorts Festival Joe Bateman, Vice Chair of the board of the European Film Academy Nik Powell, and actress Jodie Whittaker. They chose Life Sentence, a hard-hitting fictional story of two schoolboys and how their paths crossed one night in urban London. The first foray into writing and directing by London-born actor Ray Panthaki (Eastenders, Kidulthood), it’s loosely inspired by events affecting his own life.

Although EEFF is delighted to have such prestigious jury members, the festival likes to engage its audience – and so EEFF is pleased to announce the Audience Award winner is short filmmaker Alexander Thomas’s The Undream. Starring Welsh Bafta award winner Jonny Owen as an insomniac who exists in two worlds, it’s the dark, quiet story of one man’s fight.

East End Film Festival’s feature programming has more than doubled in the past five years, with an astonishing 450% growth in premiere status. The festival continues to grow enormously, this year adding six new countries to its ever growing slate of international cinema, and now representing 56 countries to date. With many of the screenings selling out, and the others well attended, The East End Film Festival is fast becoming the festival to see the best in indie cinema, in a friendly atmosphere.