SCREEN NEWS: East End Film Festival announces closure

After a long period of uncertainty, East End Film Festival has announced that its doors are closed for good. Here’s everything you need to know.

East End Film Festival

By RADIANT CIRCUS

Twitter @radiantcircus | Instagram @radiantcircus

The one thing we’ve learnt about alternative screen culture from running this blog is that film is forever fragile… After a long period of uncertainty, the much-loved East End Film Festival (EEFF) has confirmed the final closure of all its operations, exactly 20 years since the festival first hit London’s streets.

Current owner and outgoing Director Alison Poltock said:

“There has been resistance from many to closing a festival that inhabits such an independent, uniquely diverse position. The push to provide a more mainstream commercial offering is not for us. We are so proud of our inclusive, accessible and civically engaged programming; it’s at the core of our identity, so without significant investment to enable us to continue that fundamental service, we have to let the final credits roll.”

The festival’s last full edition was in 2018. In 2019, the team embarked on a yearlong programme of works, including the splendid Temple Cinema horror season in the abandoned Masonic Lodge at Andaz Liverpool Street. We don’t know, but we’re guessing these activities veiled a lot of behind the scenes effort and some considerable soul-searching to configure a way forward. Sadly these efforts weren’t to bear fruit.

Like many, we always found East End Film Festival to be a welcoming place, one where it was easy to feel part of a full-throated celebration of cinema (not characteristics shared by every similar event…). With a reputation for screening 1st and 2nd films, the programme was always suitably diverse, both in terms of the films screened and the variety of events staged for industry and audiences alike.

With so much pressure on public and private finances in the current cultural climate, the precarious status of alternative cinema is one amongst many. Whilst funding and industry bodies like to promote their latest investments and champion their newest stars, little is made of the fragility of the scene as a whole, where passion is the universal currency. Independent film exhibition in London will continue to be a vibrant place precisely because of this passion, and we look forward to blogging about it far into the future, but it has lost one of its flagship events this week.

We’ll give Alison the final words:

“It’s terribly sad of course, but we have a lot to celebrate. Alongside our film series we have commissioned poets and performers, launched soundtracks and educational programmes. We have applauded and appreciated film in all its forms and genres. We’ve been at the cutting edge and the very centre of the cinema experience. It really has been a pleasure and an honour to be involved.  Our heartfelt thanks goes to all the filmmakers, artists, sponsors, staff and volunteers who’ve supported us over the years. It’s the end for now, but who knows, one day there may be a sequel.”

And that’s the meat of it…


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