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Female directors take East End Film Festival Awards by storm

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For the first time in the festival’s 15 year history, all four recipients of East London Film Festival’s jury awards are female.

The award-winning films, which focus on a female protagonist at the very heart of the story, include: As I Open My Eyes; Sonita; Adult Life Skills and The Third Dad.

The results of the 2016 EEFF’s jury awards bring a tide of change in an industry often criticised for the prevalence of men in front of and behind the camera.

“It’s fantastic to see so many women represented – a huge congratulations to all our winners this year,” says East End Film Festival director Alison Poltock. “With women making up less than 14% of filmmakers in the UK, it shows that whilst the quantity may be low, clearly the quality is extremely high.”

As I Open My Eyes, directed by Tunisian born film director Leyla Bouzid, won Best Feature film. The fictional film, which is set in the months leading up to the Jasmine Revolution, tells the story of an 18-year old girl pressurised by her family to become a doctor, and explores central themes around political censorship and the role of women.

Fascinated by the feature film, director Sarah Gavron said: “It has a very naturalistic improvised feel, was culturally revealing, and captured the complex political moment in Tunisia through a personal story.”

Best Documentary film was awarded to Sonita, directed by Iranian filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami.  This spectacular documentary is centred around a young Afghan refugee living in Iran, who rejects an arranged marriage in order to pursue her dream of making rap music.

The film was elected by a jury comprising multimedia artist Bob & Roberta Smith, critically acclaimed filmmaker Katharine Round, writer-director Mark Donne (Rime of the Modern Mariner EEFF2010 and The UK Gold EEFF2013), and punk legend Bruno Wizard.  

EEFF’s 2016 Accession Award, which champions the subtle, all encompassing craft of screenwriting, was awarded to Rachel Tunnard’s Adult Life Skills. The film is a comedic, British feature starring Jodie Whittaker, and follows a woman approaching her 30th birthday, who is forced to confront the things she fears the most: she's afraid to find herself.

The fourth recipient of EEFF’s jury awards went to The Third Dad, directed by visual artist and filmmaker Theresa Moerman, who took home Best UK Short award - a brave journey of memory, self-discovery and a desperate attempt at reconciliation.

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