East End Film Festival 2016 – Ones to Watch

The East End Film Festival takes place 23rd June – 3rd July in several venues around Eastern Central London. With a diverse range of features and shorts on show, it can be tricky to work out what to see. We had a look at a few of the films screening during the festival.

The Darkest Universe

On the face of it, The Darkest Universe has a plot which doesn’t really inspire. When Zac’s (Will Sharp) sister (Tiana Ghosh) and her boyfriend (Joe Thomas) disappear on a narrowboat, he gives up his career in the City and sets off to try and find her. Directors Sharp and Tom Kingley do brilliantly to conjure up a sense of increasing inner madness and despair through Zac’s all-encompassing desperate need to find her.

Beautifully shot, The Darkest Universe is one of the best low budget British films I’ve seen this decade. Innovative and inventive, the co-directors do a beautiful job of handling the dual narratives and it’s well-acted and cleverly scripted. Equally thought-provoking and funny, The Darkest Universe is an impressive follow-up to the BAFTA nominated Black Pond.

Uncle Howard

In 1983 director Howard Brookner released his first film, Burroughs: The Movie, to critical acclaim. It took him five years to complete. Six years later he died from AIDS after completing his first narrative feature (Bloodhounds of Broadway). On discovering a huge archive of his materials, his nephew, Aaron, decided to make a documentary about his life.

Uncle Howard is Aaron’s odyssey to discover as much about his uncle as he can. With the help of close friends, colleagues and family, he manages to unearth a remarkable wealth of archive material; much of which focusses on Burroughs. Uncle Howard is a fabulous documentary and the footage and photographs are worth the ticket price alone.

Mile End

Graham Higgins’ low budget British drama hits all the right notes whilst making the most of every penny. Struggling to find a job or even tell his girlfriend (Heidi Agerholm Balle) he’s been made redundant, Paul’s (Alex Humes) life is a mess. Whilst out jogging he bumps into John (Mark Arnold), they strike up a friendship, and gradually things seem to be on the up. However, John becomes more erratic and an odd chain of events makes Paul increasingly apprehensive.

Mile End capitalises on its surroundings, painting London with splashes of Ballard at his dystopian best. Higgins takes a swipe at the ‘system’, particularly the City, through the eyes of John and Paul. The sense of intrigue stays with you throughout, whilst the tension continues to build as the violence bubbles just below the surface. It’s an impressive debut with great performances from Humes, Arnold and Balle.

Dead Slow Ahead

A freighter crosses the ocean and the behemoth seems to have a life of its own. Whilst the crew bustles around doing their jobs, the machinery pumps and groans in it’s insatiable urge to consume everything in front of it.

There’s a rhythmic pulse to Mauro Herce’s debut feature Dead Slow Ahead. The Spanish director builds on his impressive resume as a cinematographer (including El camino and Ocaso) to shoot a film which pounds with a strong beating heart. Ostensibly, it’s an experimental documentary about life aboard a ship, but deep down it’s the ship itself which mesmerises Herce.

East End Film Festival begins on Thursday. To see the full programme visit the festival website.

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