The Annual East London Film festival took over the East End as it celebrated its 10th year bigger than ever before with two hundred shorts, feature films and documentaries from the best emerging talent in cinema. Designed to be a culture feast, it also featured poetry discussions, live music events and various after analysis along side the main film screenings. Venues all over east London such as St Anne’s Church, The Barbican and The Rich Mix hosted a wealth of cinema talent from all over the world.
The highlights included the monster of all silent cinema and early classic horror ‘Nosferatu’ which was shown for free at Old Spitafields market. After the screening of Dom Shaw’s documentary ‘All the years of trying’ there was a dicussion with guest Benjamin Zephaniah, Attila The Stockbroker and Boff Whally of Chumbawumba ‘The Rime of the Modern Mariner’ directed by journalist Mark Donna and narrated by musician Carl Barat, centred on the sulture and community centuries before its closure was featured at St Anne’s Church.
The lack of attention and funding that goes into the British film industey is something that is brought to focus by such festival all over Britain as this because they underline how much potential talent is out there and possibly not gaining the coverage needed to attract wider audiences. On a wider scaled is open eyes to films beginning directors from all over world, who would not have the financial tools to promote their debuts otherwise.
Such is the case with Francesca – Romanie/Dir: Bobby Paunescu, which won best international feature. It’s an extremely strong debute from newcomer film-maker Bobby Paunescu and also presents a sharp performance from Monica Birladeanu who carries the weight of the film by portraying the struggles of lead titled character Francessca. A Romanian primary school teacher takes the chance of a better life by immigrating to Italy. Despite severe warnings from her closest friends and family, she pays money to a middle man to get a caretaking job in Milan and is persuaded by her boyfriend its for the best to secure a new better life. He is to join her after finishing unfinished business in home Romania but as the story unfolds disturbing truths come to light about his past and she is forced to take on an unwelcoming new world by herself. Although it’s not a particularly fast paced narrative with a strong resolution it’s merit lies in the way in which it manages to address something so awkward and taboo as immigration in Italy. The documentary style camera angles and light humour combined with the actor’s performances keeps what could be a bleak outlook for a film, fun and light-hearted. The only true villain of the film is Italy itself which is portrayed as anti-immigrant and struggles to progress into a forward multicultural nation. It’s a brave social comment made by Bobby Paunescu through cinema.