The East End Film Festival has opened to a ringing endorsement from Islington born producer and director Stephen Woolley.
|Stephen Woolley on the set of Stoned|
"A lot of my family come from the East End and it's where I spent many of my formative years," he told BBC London Online, "So to have a film festival there is a great thing."
The director of the Rolling Stones biopic Stoned will be Producer In Residence at this year's festival, whose patrons include actor Steven Berkoff and Trainspotting director Danny Boyle.
While it traditionally takes in independent films from around the world, the festival's roots lie in giving a voice to local filmmakers and local issues.
|"With the Olympics coming, there's nowhere in Britain that's changing as much as the East End..."|
|Producer/director Stephen Woolley|
"With the Olympics coming, there's nowhere in Britain that's changing as much as the East End," said Woolley, who received a Best Picture Oscar nomination in 1992 for The Crying Game.
"Films being made now in the East End of London will look entirely different in four, five or six year's time, when of course everything will be in the middle of change. So this is an opportunity for filmmakers to capture a part of London that may no longer be with us," he added.
six uk premieres
The festival's 2006 programme kicks off with the London premiere of Richard E. Grant's family drama Wah-Wah.
Set in 1960s Swaziland towards the end of British colonisation, it stars Gabriel Byrne, Emily Watson and Julie Walters and marks the actor's directorial debut. Grant will also take part in a Q&A session and will introduce a screening of Robert Altman's 1975 classic Nashville.
|Grain in Ear is set in rural China|
The festival will also host six UK premieres, including Ski Jumping Pairs - Road to Torino, a Jackass-influenced mockumentary from Japan and Grain in Ear, about an exploited Korean immigrant in rural China, ready to wreak her revenge.
Much nearer to home is a documentary exploring the spicy history of Brick Lane, at the screening of which East End resident Minoo Bhatia will be present to discuss her experiences during the making of the film.
Other guests will be screenwriter Tony Grisoni, who has collaborated with Michael Winterbottom and Terry Gilliam, and Phil Dale, the lead animator on Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride.
The East End Film Festival runs for seven days, ending on Thursday 4 May, with screenings, showcases, masterclasses and workshops shared between Genesis Mile End, the Rio Cinema and Rich Mix Bethnal Green.