1. New Post: Somewhere you should go… Jazz Re:fest


    Somewhere you should go… Jazz Re:fest

    It was 10 years ago that a cool crew of jazz aficionados from West London decided to honour their beloved genre with a weekly live residency, offering a forum for likeminded fans to enjoy incredible music plus have a great night out – the ultimate win-win, really. Since then, Jazz Re:freshed has seen all sorts of jazz-inspired acts (established, homegrown, international, et. al.) bless their stage in a way that’s belied the stoic nature of the genre in the mainstream – and it’s this philosophy that has put JR in good stead over the last decade. So you can imagine they’ve got plenty to celebrate, which is why they’re marking their anniversary with a festival featuring some of those amazing bands and acts that have shown Jazz Re:freshed love at some point or other.

    Adam and Justin_sm

    For those in the know, that includes Daz-i-kue (Bugz in the Attic), Eric Lau, Nathan Haines, Vanessa Freeman (Kyoto Jazz Massive, Reel People) and the indomitable singer Vula – and if you don’t know, you’ll get your chance to on Saturday, August 24th, when they’ll be holding court at The Flyover after hours from 9pm. So come with an open mind (and your dancing shoes!) for this pre-carnival warm-up.

    For more info, visit:  www.jazzrefreshed.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/jazz-refest

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  2. New Post: Somewhere you should go… Sundance London Film and Music Festival 2013


    Somewhere you should go… Sundance London Film and Music Festival 2013

    The appearance of a great variety of extinguished guests, from trip hop pioneer Tricky to HRH The Prince of Wales was one of the many things that made last year’s Sundance London such an absolute joy. Now as the film and music festival returns to the O2, will it be able to offer once again a highly eclectic and diverse audio-visual experience?

    The film section of the festival does include a stellar line up of films (fiction, documentaries and short films) that left the best of impressions at the latest Sundance film festival. A case in point is Mud. It’s directed by Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter), a filmmaker who may be the most interesting new voice in the American independent cinema, and stars Matthew McConaughey, who had a brilliant year ever since he decided to move away from romcoms and prove his acting chops in more demanding projects.  The story has the unparalleled enchantment of a fable as two teenage boys try to reunite a charismatic outlaw with his true love, so  it’s no wonder the film has received high praise by the critics. Another critics’ darling, Michael Winterbottom, will be present at the festival to present his latest film The Look of Love, a flamboyant biopic of the notorious “king of Soho” Paul Raymond. The fact that Raymond is played by Steve Coogan should be worth the admission fee alone.
    Moving on to the documentaries, Blood Brother presents the inspiring story of Rocky Braat who after meeting a group of children with HIV in India,  decides to stay there and restart his life dedicating himself to the  well-being of those children. Having won both the audience award and the grand jury prize at Sundance, the film will undoubtedly be a life affirming experience. For thrill seekers, there is The Summit that uses found footage as well as realistic re-enactments to convey to the viewer the breath taking experience of climbing K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth. In August 2008, 18 out of 24 climbers reached the summit of K2. 28 hours later, 11 people were dead. Up to this day we do not know what exactly happened on that fateful date.

    The music section of this year’s festival offers a far more joyful but equally electrifying experience. History Of The Eagles Part One showcases not only the defining tunes but also the stormy conflicts between the members of this classic band. Members of The Eagles will do an extended Q&A session after the screening of the film to shine more light on their fascinating story. Another American legend, Gregg Allman (of The Allman Brothers Band), will be joined by John Paul White (of The Civil Wars), to present Muscle Shoals, a documentary about the glorious “Muscle Shoals sound”, featuring interviews with Mick Jagger, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Alicia Keys. They’ll also be performing an intimate acoustic 45 minute live performance. Last but certainly not least, the sui-generis Merrill Beth Nisker aka Peaches will grace the festival with her presence not just delivering one of her characteristic ferocious gigs but also presenting her first feature, aptly entitled Peaches Does Herself, an electro rock opera about her affair with a beautiful she-male.

    With a programme then that includes a bit of everything, it’s clear the second ever Sundance London will surpass the already high expectations. (Words: Apostolos Kostoulas)
    Sundance London Film and Music Festival 2013 will take place at the O2 from April 25-28. For further information visit: www.sundance-london.com


  3. New Post: Somewhere you should go… KINOTEKA Polish Film Festival


    Somewhere you should go… KINOTEKA Polish Film Festival

    There’s always a myriad of film festivals in the capital  and you might be wondering why this particular festival deserves special attention. Well, there are many reasons why this particular festival deserves special attention. Not only does the programme revisit old film maestros within the Polish film industry (the retrospective of experimental artist Wojciech Bruszewski at the Tate looks particularly tasty) and showcase the latest cutting-edge  films (Bejbi Blues from Katarzyna Rosłaniec looks at teenagers obsessed with video games and getting wasted – with the small matter of a baby to take care of), the programme also includes an array of workshops.


    These vary from a cinematography masterclass with Roman Polanski collaborator Paweł Edelman (most lauded for his work on ‘The Pianist’) to learning the dark arts of pitching your era-defining idea and  discovering the latest technological developments and trends within Hollywood at the moment. The festival also looks to the future, fostering the next generation of talent with animation workshops for young teenagers.

    But back to the programme. There is one film guaranteed to appal or intrigue, and even if you are appalled, you’ll still be intrigued. ‘F*** for Forest’  may be a questionable title, but is in fact a charity that take a more salacious approach to environmental activism; they’re  featured in a documentary that shows the amorous attempts of this group of hardy souls to protect an area of Amazon rainforest for its indigenous people.

    In short, this is no ordinary film festival. (Words: Ed Spencer) 

    Kinoteka runs until March 17th at various venues. For more info, visit: For more info – www.kinoteka.org.uk


  4. New Post: Somewhere you should go…Totally Serialized - Season 2


    Somewhere you should go…Totally Serialized - Season 2 

    Television – it’s the glue that holds society together. How many Monday moments have you had at the virtual watercooler with colleagues, bonding over a shared disgust of the latest torrid soap story line, or weeping with laughter at Sir Alan’s latest put down? Too close to the likes of TOWIE for you? Well TV does high-brow equally well: witness the popularity of Attenborough’s Africa or the wonderful Mad Men.

    In fact, as much as the media likes to put a downer on the quality of broadcasting in the modern age, we all know that without telly, things would get pretty boring pretty quickly. So in the spirit of all good rhyming children’s TV slogans everywhere, let’s celebrate, not denigrate!


    The Institute Francais in has taken it upon itself to arrange the UK’s only TV series festival, featuring some of the most beloved shows on our screens. Strange though it is that this televisual celebration is being instigated by our partners across the Channel,  we can only be grateful to our French cousins for the treat in store. Let’s be clear, there will be no showings of My Family, but the comforting familiarity of characters from well-loved sitcoms such as Doctor Who and Skins should be enough to keep any attendee entertained.

    The festival kicks off with the world premiere of Flight of the Storks, a mini drama that follows intrepid academic Jonathan Ansolme through a murky world of intrigue, deceit and murder, whilst embarking on a mission through the African jungle, to follow storks on migration. Alternatively, enjoy a comedy marathon, taking in British classics Peep Show and The Thick of It, whilst also getting an introduction to less familiar French comedies Kaboul Kitchen, WorkinGirls and Desperate Parents.

    Saving the best ’til last, there’ll be a conversation with Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville on Sunday giving attendees the inside scoop on behind the scenes action, whilst a screening of Labyrinth will be followed by a Q&A featuring actresses from the cast Katie McGrath and Vanessa Kirby, alongside author of the original book Kate Mosse. Come Monday morning, you’ll have serious bragging rights at that watercooler.

    Totally Serialized runs at Institut Français du Royaume-Uni, 16-20 January at 17 Queensberry Place
, London SW7 2DT. Ticket prices from £5.


  5. New Post: Somewhere you should go… The London Ice Sculpting Festival


    Somewhere you should go… The London Ice Sculpting Festival

    All of my knowledge of ice sculpting comes from Edward Scissorhands. Who hasn’t been mesmerised by the scene where Edward whittles an ice angel out of a cold block, with his bare (scissor) hands, in an effort to win Winona’s heart? If you were as mesmerised as I was, well, you’re in for a treat because it’s time for this year’s London Ice Sculpting festival. If the website is anything to go by, carving an angel will seem like child’s play by the time you leave.

    Pic: Steve Pattenden

    Pic: Steve Pattenden

    Taking place around Canary Wharf (from Friday onwards) the festival will be hosting sculpting competitions to see who can create the biggest and best sculpture on the day. Come and watch the pros go at it, or better still, get started on the path to ice sculpting glory by signing up to a masterclass, where you’ll be taught how to chisel a mundane block into a work of abeautiful penguin. If it all goes wrong just say it’s a cloud. Classes are likely to be popular, but don’t despair if you miss out – there’ll also be a graffiti wall for those with more ‘street’ inclinations to sculpt on.

    Those who want a more sedate day out can play ice chess or join in the arts and crafts workshops. Alternatively simply soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the fire dancers and Northern Lights laser show, and kick back, safe in the knowledge you’re definitely at the coolest thing happening in January.

    The London Ice Sculpting Festival runs from  11-13 Jan, in Canary Wharf. Tickets are free.  For more info, visit www.londonicesculptingfestival.co.uk


  6. New Post: Somewhere you should go… Secret Emporium Christmas Market


    Somewhere you should go… Secret Emporium Christmas Market

    If you don’t like Christmas shopping (and really, who does? Too many people, too much tat and not enough mulled wine to numb the pain) then you’re in for a treat this December. Eschew the usual department stores and swap Oxford Street for Hearn Street where you’ll find Factory 7, the site of the return of Secret Emporium. It’s a Christmas market with a twist, but instead of the usual selection of stollen, schnitzel and bratwurst, you’ll find a showcase of Britain’s best independent designers. If you’re on the lookout for original gifts that are handmade and unique, you’ll be in heaven here.

    Secret Emporium exhibitor - SJ STYLEE

    There’ll be bright geometric print cushions from Camille Walala, an interior designer stocked at fashionista favourtite Darkroom, the new ready to-wear collection from Isobel Webster (designer of outrageous bodysuits for artists including Jessie J and The Correspondents), delicate insect jewellery from concept jewellers Thor & Wistle, and a whole host more. With over 40 designers it’s unlikely you’ll get bored, but just so it’s not all about the shopping, entertainment ranges from interactive performers dishing out hot mulled cider and roasted chestnuts, live music from Secret Garden Party favourites The John Langan Band, The Turbans and wonderful food by Moro. (Words: Jane Duru) 

    Secret Emporium runs 15 -16 December at Factory 7, Hearn St EC2A 3LS. For more info, visit www.secretemporium.com


  7. New Post: Somewhere you should go… The London Underground Film Festival at The Horse Hospital


    Somewhere you should go… The London Underground Film Festival at The Horse Hospital

    If there are two words that get the cultural tastebuds going, it’s ‘film’ and ‘underground’. Put the two together at a ‘three tiered progressive arts venue’ and you have something truly tantalising and from the sounds of it, a proper antidote to the long sleigh ride to Christmas. Now in its third year, this particular incarnation of the LUFF promises another celebration of obscure, no budget, low budget, genre and genreless, new and recycled films.

    The Horse Hospital

    Taking place at the Horse Hospital which prides itself on risk, experimentation and innovation, it all kicks off with a short film competition. Featuring seven films, the winner will selected by a secret ballot carried out by the crowd. Rather confusingly, there is an opening party the following evening (an avant garde take on lineality, perhaps?) and the fair on offer here highlights quite what a varied community has built over the last three years. A knees-up that promises Nói Kabát laying waste to your ears (a band who draw on constructivism, futurism and noise theory) alongside writers who do readings standing on their heads highlights that this is not only a festival about film, but a forum for discussion, art, and experimentalism – and that sounds like a fine way to spend the next few days.  (Words: Ed Spencer)

    The Underground Film Festival runs from December 6th – 9th. For more info visit www.londonundergroundfilmfestival.org.uk


  8. New Post: Somewhere you should eat… FEAST London


    Somewhere you should eat… FEAST London

    London’s foodie revolution shows no signs of slowing down: 2012 has seen an influx of fried chicken joints, Peruvian ceviche, and every other week seems to see another ode to Americana in the form of burger bars and steak places. In celebration of this renaissance comes FEAST, which returns for a Christmas banquet in a disused Royal Mail sorting office.

    Lily Vanilli

    Yes, it’s another food festival but what food?  Stallholders include street food heroes Pizza Pilgrims and Yum Bun. Alternatively some of London’s hottest chefs will there to whet your palate: get that chicken fix with Hix, grab life-changing brownies and tasty pastries at the Lily Vanilli stall, Jewish comfort food will be hand from the Mishkins boys and sloppy burgers from Lucky Chip. And if great food wasn’t enough, popular folk night Woodburner will decamp from their usual Stoke Newington base to provide the soundtrack to your feasting, whilst omnipresent jellymongers Bompas & Parr will be providing ‘a live experiment’ that promises to make an impact. Seems like this will be a feast for all seasons.

    FEAST London runs  from December 6-9.  For more info, visit  www.wefeast.co.uk


  9. New Post: Somewhere you should go… 20th French Film Festival UK


    Somewhere you should go… 20th French Film Festival UK

    It was 1992 when a small film festival first appeared in two Scottish cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow celebrating the rich cinematic tradition of our Gallic neighbours. Fast forward to 2012, and the French Film Festival is now one of the UK’s most enduring and exciting film festivals. Major cities across the UK such as Manchester, Bristol and London are now participating in this fête that showcases the best offerings of francophone cinema’s past, present and future – and for its twentieth anniversary, the FFF has assembled a typically eclectic list of films that will undoubtedly entertain cineastes of all ages.

    Opening this year’s festival with the latest cinematic adventures of Astérix and Obélix,was undoubtedly a crowd-pleasing choice. Uderzo and Goscinny’s comic characters are much loved by generations of readers who grew up with the stories about the little Gallic village that resisted the roman occupation and the previous four film adaptations were all box-office hits. Add to this the exciting premise behind the title of the new entry in the franchise –  Astérix and Obélix: God Save Britannia –  and the intriguing casting of legendary actress Catherine Deneuve in the role of the Queen of England and you have a definite winner.

    Happiness Never Comes Alone

    Ducoboo is also based on a popular comic series whose titular character is an eleven-year-old dunce who finds inventive ways to cheat during school exams but always gets caught in the end. For the definite capture of children’s mischiefs however, look no further than War of the Buttons, the latest film adaptation of the classic novel by Louis Pergaud about two rival kid gangs in a little village of post-war France who cut off the buttons from the clothes of their adversaries and keep them as combat trophies.
    Various films in this year’s FFF reminds us French cinema’s knack for producing delightful and sophisticated romantic films. Happiness Never Comes Alone (pictured) offers the winning combo of the sublime beauty of Sophie Marceau and the timeless soulful melodies of classic Motown hits, while Paris- Manhattan is a love letter to the genius of Woody Allen. A hopelessly romantic pharmacist is obsessed with the works and general philosophy of the New York auteur and much like the typical Woody character, she is unlucky in love. As for My Worst Nightmare, the names behind and in front of the camera (the film is directed by Anne Fontaine, responsible for BAFTA-nominated Coco Before Chanel, and stars Isabelle Huppert, winner of two Best Actress awards at Cannes) should be enough to attract every cinephile’s interest.
    Mathieu Kassovitz, whose uncompromising film La Haine still lingers in the mind of everyone who’s seen it, returns with Rebellion that tackles another controversial subject, the 1988 Ouvéa cave hostage taking incident. Elsewhere, the fest sees The Minister, another gripping political thriller. Having won 2 Cesar awards (for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor) as well as the 2011 FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes, it should make for essential viewing.

    The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
    The FFF  not only highlights the extremely healthy and exciting state of contemporary French cinema but also reminds us about its glorious past. The whimsical universe of Jacques Demy is celebrated with the screening of five of his most beautiful films (the academy award nominated musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is his most famous work but Bay of Angels is arguably his finest masterpiece). Then there are two bonafide classics that you do not see often on the big screens: Georges Franju’s atmospheric horror film Eyes Without a Face and René Clément’s extremely touching Forbidden Games. Finally, there is Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, the 1902 film that is regarded by many as the first ever science fiction film and whose use of state-of-the-art effects paved the way for all those Hollywood’s special effect-heavy blockbusters like Star Wars and Avatar - another example of how something small can grow up into something huge. (Words: Apostolos Kostoulas)
    The 20th French Film Festival UK runs until December 2nd  2012 in various cities across the UK. For more information go to www.frenchfilmfestival.org.uk/FFF2012


  10. New Post: Something you should see… Chewing Gum Dreams (Radar Festival 2012)


    Something you should see… Chewing Gum Dreams (Radar Festival 2012)

    Madani Younis, the new artistic director of the Bush theatre, opened the Radar Festival last week with a cheeky paean to the Shepherd Bush area and its eponymous theatre. Over the next three weeks, he explained, the Bush will host discussions about the shape and possibilities of contemporary theatre, along with a myriad of guest performances and works in progress by the artists who are defining these changes. Talks will focus on theatrical concepts and processes, whilst play performances are an opportunity to celebrate and encourage new talent, such as Chewing Gum Dreams, directed by Che Walker, proves.

    Chewing Gum Dreams

    Performer and playwright Michaela Coel gives us Tracey, a 14-year-old girl, initially all vicious, hilarious put-downs and sly detachment, which she gradually strips away (literally, in one scene – Tracey’s first sexual experience) to lay bare the emotions of growing up. The language is sharp, fresh, confident, and rises effortlessly into poetry. As for Coel, she has a gift for capturing a character in a slouch, a swagger or a smile. The openness and ease of her performance immediately sets up a relationship of trust with the audience, and with her, we are safe to venture more difficult or sensitive areas – male violence, teenage sexuality. One only hopes that the Bush’s new artistic outlook will persuade artists such as Coel to stay in theatre a while longer before disappearing off into film and TV stardom.

    If the opening evening is anything to go by, there’ll be plenty of reasons to keep coming back to the Bush Theatre’s Radar Festival over the next three weeks. With people like these shaping contemporary theatre, it’s in safe hands. (Words: Ben Hadley) 

    Radar Festival runs from November 7th – November 22nd at the Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road,
W12 8LJ. For more info, visit www.bushtheatre.co.uk