The East End Film Festival’s award system is a vital part of the festival’s mission to discover, debate and develop new voices in cinema. Announced on 25 June at a ceremony supported by Zero One coinciding with the close of the festival, awards announcements included the EEFF Best Film Award: reserved for the most outstanding film from a first or second-time director, the recipient of this year’s Best Film Award is WHITE SHADOW, the phenomenal debut feature from Noaz Deshe. Set in Tanzania, where witch doctors believe albino body parts can cure illness, it’s an involving, terrifying exploration of folk religion. Interspersing handheld realism with moments of dreamlike escape, this story of a young albino called Alias evokes a world that is all too real. Deshe will return to the festival as the EEFF’s Director in Residence for 2015, helping to curate a special selection of films as part of next year’s programme, and serving on the 2015 Best Film jury.
White Shadow was selected by a jury comprising EEFF 2014’s Director-in-Residence Sebastian Hofmann (Best Feature award recipient in 2013 for Halley), Screen International’s chief film critic Mark Adams, Director of Partnerships at the BFI Eddie Berg, English photographer and video artist Gillian Wearing, and Oscar-nominated playwright, author and screenwriter Peter Straughan. Noaz Deshe will be invited to the festival in 2015 as Director-in-Residence, following Sebastian Hofmann (Halley, 2013), Armando Bo (El Ultimo Elvis, 2012), Vikramaditya Motwane (Udaan, 2011), and Bobby Parnescu (Francesca, 2010).
Tom Berninger’s MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS was named Best Documentary by a jury comprising British artists and filmmakers Iain Forsythe and Jane Pollard, Oscar-nominated Palestinian film director Emad Burnat, BAFTA-winning documentary filmmaker Tristan Anderson, and BBC Storyville’s Shanida Scotland. Documenting older brother Matt Berninger of lauded American band The National, it’s a funny, moving and insightful portrait of love and rivalry between siblings – and one of the best music documentaries of recent years.
SOHO CIGARETTE won the inaugural Accession Award, which this year champions the art of cinematography and was judged by Barry Ackroyd, the acclaimed cinematographer known for his work with Ken Loach, Paul Greengrass and Kathryn Bigelow. This new award reinforces EEFF’s focus on the transition into a professional career in the industry – indeed, the film’s director Jonathan Fairburn took part in EEFF’s Mind The Gap industry training programme in 2013. The film’s cinematographer Gavin Northover wins a complete cinematography package from east London’s camera rental company One Stop Films. “Gavin’s work is stylish and appropriate, creating the right mood and showing great control over the image,” Barry Ackroyd said of the winner. “His work has smoothly transitioned from documentary to stylish cinema.”
Jessica Habie’s re-imagined story of Palestinian artist Hani Zurob, MARS AT SUNRISE was named Best Feature Soundtrack by a jury including Karl Hyde of electronic group Underworld and Oscar-nominated sound engineer Graham Hartstone. Graham Fitzpatrick’s COLOURS was named Best UK Short, winning £3,000 of post production services from Prime Focus, while Adam Greves THE DAY MY FISH DIED won the Short Film Audience Award. Special thanks go to London based artist Lucy Jones for creating this year’s beautiful award design.
This award announcement brings the festival’s thirteenth edition to a close. Screening over 100 features and around 80 short films during its 13 day run, and with international guests including Hugh Grant, Clive Owen, Ron Perlman, The Levellers, The National, Howard Marks, Penny Woolcock, Damian Jones, Edith Bowman, Stewart Lee, Kevin Eldon, Max Mosley and Dave McKean, the 13th East End Film Festival was the most exciting and and bold edition of the festival to date.