The 2009 East End Film Festival launches tomorrow - in the words of the organisers:
The East End Film Festival showcases hot new talent and homegrown films alongside larger independent releases and special events, informing and inspiring a new generation of filmmakers and audiences from across London and beyond, and raising the profile of this vibrant and diverse area - London’s East End.
Traditionally, it’s had a strong Eastern European presence, and 2009 is no different - perusing the programme I note that they’re showing the following:
Friday 24, 8pm: The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner (Светът е голям и спасение дебне отвсякъде, d. Stephan Komandarev, Bulgaria, 2008) - I saw this in Sarajevo and remember enjoying it, though the framing story (a champion backgammon player travels to Germany to collect his teenage grandson from hospital following a car crash that killed his parents) is far less compelling than the flashbacks in which parents and son leave communist Bulgaria for life in an internment camp in Italy. Unsubtitled Bulgarian trailer here.
Saturday 25, 7pm: Iska’s Journey (Iszka utazása, d. Csaba Bollók, Hungary, 2007) and Everybody Dies But Me (Все умрут, а я останусь, d. Valeriya Gai Germanika, Russia, 2008) - I haven’t seen the Russian film, but this double bill is worth it for the stunning if relentlessly grim Hungarian title, which I reviewed here
Saturday 25, 7.30pm: Złoty środek (d. Olaf Lubaszenko, Poland, 2009) - this Polish film is so new (it opened there on 20 March) that it doesn’t even seem to have an English title yet. The director is best known as an actor (most famously the male lead in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s A Short Film About Love/Krótki film o miłości, 1988), but he’s also been directing for the last decade or so. Sadly, I can’t attend this screening, but I suspect my good friend and occasional writing partner Kamila Kuc will be relieved, as she’s hosting the Q&A and I won’t be able to heckle it. Unsubtitled Polish trailer here.
Monday 27, 7pm: I Was Here (Mina olin siin, d. René Vilbre, Estonia, 2008) - a second feature that made a splash at the Karlovy Vary film festival last year. Here’s the (unsubtitled) trailer.
Tueday 28, 6.30pm: Zift (d. Javor Gardev, Bulgaria, 2008) and Rene (d. Helena Třeštíková, Czech Republic, 2008). I haven’t seen the first of these, but I can certainly recommend the second - a documentary study of a charming but incorrigible recidivist from teenage criminal in the dying days of the Communist era to roughly twenty years later, and the film was shot over the same period. Rene spends much of the time in prison, great political upheavals largely passing him by, and although he occasionally turns his mind to something productive (such as writing), his lengthy self-destructive streak keeps catching up with him, starting with his decision to tattoo “fuck of people” [sic] across his throat.
Tuesday 28, 9pm: Elevator (d. George Dorobantu, Romania, 2008) - the mainland British premiere of another Romanian New Wave discovery, a practically zero-budget two-hander that seems to be well thought of.
Wednesday 29, 6.30pm: Homecoming (Heimkehrer, d. Jovan Arsenic, Serbia, 2004) and Revanche (d. Götz Spielmann, Austria, 2008) - haven’t seen either of these, but they both look intriguing, and the double-bill package is equally attractive.