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Festival Information

London SadFest is a unique film festival that celebrates and explores the world of sad films.


The festival will be taking place at the Genesis Cinema in Mile End, London on the first weekend of March - 3rd, 4th, 5th.

The festival consists of a series of films and speakers with a launch event on the Friday evening. There will also be music and spoken word performances in the bar area throughout the event.

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Programme and Schedule

The festival consists of 5 sad films spread over three days along with performances of sad music and poetry in the bar area upstairs. Most of the films will be followed by a talk from a guest speaker. (More information on the talks and bar area performances coming soon).

Friday 3rd March - Launch Event
6pm - 10pm

The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980) Running Time: 118 minutes. Starting at 6pm.
Introduction: Steve Todd, Festival Organiser + a representative form the Central London Samaritans.
Guest Speaker: Dr Åsa Jansson, Centre for the History of the Emotions, Queen Mary University of London.
Followed by drinks reception and live performances in the bar area.


Saturday 4th March - "Love, Friendship and Vulnerability"
2pm - 10pm

2pm - Performances start in the bar area.
3.30pm - Kes (Ken Loach, 1969) Running Time: 112 minutes.
Guest Speaker: Sarbjit Samra
6pm - In The Mood For Love(Wong Kar Wai, 2000) Running Time: 96 minutes
8.30pm - 10pm Performances continue the bar area.


Sunday 5th March - "Tragic Decisions and Historical Forces"
2pm - 8.30pm

2pm - Performances start in the bar area.
3pm - Sophie's Choice (Alan J. Pakula, 1983) Running Time: 144 minutes.
Guest Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Wallace
6pm - Precious (Lee Daniels, 2009) Running Time: 110 minutes
Guest speaker: Marcia Harris

Buy tickets for London SadFest 2017 - Sad Film Festival

Live Performances

** All live performances are free and open to the public **

The following performers and speakers have been confirmed for the live performance and spoken word track in the bar area upstairs in the cinema:

Music: Anna and Lou, David Callahan (Wolfhounds/Moonshake), Robert Paul (Les Saules Pleureurs / Severed Limb), Garden City Projects, Kaya (Science of the Lamps), Joseph Paice, Kasia Kawalek, The Schulz, Tom Baynton

Poetry: Jeff Hilson, Brian Docherty, Ruth Ingram (reading her translation of Hans Sahl), Jonathan Mann

Performance: Emmanuel Speaks, Dan Horrigan

Talks: "The Tyranny of Happiness and the Medicalisation of Misery", Dr Angela Byrne; "I Am Verb, Not A Noun: Rebelling Against A Label", Raza Griffiths.

DJ Tear Drop and DJ Evil Elvis will be playing sad songs on a dancette record player.

Times for the live performances in the bar area will be provided nearer the date.

Guest Speaker Profiles

Dr Asa JanssonDr Åsa Jansson asks "When is it ok to be sad?" The Elephant Man asks us to feel empathy toward the film's protagonist - to feel with him, not just for him. We are invited to recognise our own humanity in this visually monstrous figure, to see him not just as our equal but as our potential self. The film conveys a kind of soothing sadness, a sadness that speaks to our shared fear of loneliness and desire to belong. The Elephant Man has been criticised for its overt sentimentality, but are the feelings of sadness and vulnerability it evokes necessarily a bad thing? Since the emergence of modern psychiatry in the nineteenth century, 'negative' feelings have increasingly been cast as medical abnormalities to be managed or cured, rather than as an essential and valuable part of a diverse repertoire of human emotion. But even when sadness is not seen as an illness, it is often perceived as an undesirable and useless emotion. Instead, we are told to pursue happiness at ever cost.

Åsa Jansson's talk will explore the question of useful sadness within the context of the history of sadness and melancholy in modern Britain, inviting the audience to consider whether the twenty-first century pursuit of happiness and our growing aversion to sadness prevent us also from feeling compassionate sadness, the kind of sadness that inspires us see past that which divides us and reach out to our fellow human beings.

Dr Åsa Jansson is an associate member of the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London. Her research explores the history of "disordered" or "pathological" emotions since the 1800s, and the different ways in which modern medicine has tried to label and categorise our emotions as normal or deviant in different contexts. For more details about Åsa's research, including publications, please see her Academia page.


Sarbjit SamraSarbjit Samra will be talking about Ken Loach's Kes (1969) and sharing his personal perspectives directly after the film screening. According to Sarbjit, Kes is one of the most powerful and emotionally devastating films in the history of cinema. It is one of those rare films that is truly authentic because it doesn't compromise. Kes delivers some strong and honest messages about social class that are arguably even more relevant today than the time when it was released.

Sarbjit was born in Coventry in 1967. He studied Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University where he specialised in new media, film and video. In the 90s, during the Brit pop era, Sarbjit was one of the UK's leading live artists and performed frequently at the ICA as well as shows in Ireland and the US. Sarbjit worked as an events production manager at the BBC between 1997 and 2015 and freelanced as a live events producer for BAFTA. He currently works in communications.


Dr Jennifer WallaceDr. Jennifer Wallace. Traditionally, since the ancient Greeks, tragedy has been thought to be the province of the theatre. But can we speak about a tragic film? And how would we define it? Jennifer Wallace offers a whistle-stop tour through some essentials of tragedy - choice, recognition, pity and fear, fate, catharsis - to guide our assessment of "sad" films.

Jennifer Wallace teaches English Literature and Comparative Drama, specialising in Tragedy, at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of The Cambridge Introduction to Tragedy (2007), as well as of books on archaeology (Digging the Dirt: The Archaeological Imagination) and Romantic Hellenism (Shelley and Greece). Her first work of fiction, Digging Up Milton, set in London's East End in 1790, was published last year.

Jennifer is currently writing a book on Witnessing Tragedy Since 9/11. It looks at the critical events and technological developments of the last two decades, from terrorism and conflict through drone warfare to climate change, and considers how to interpret these from the perspective of traditional tragic drama and philosophy. The book is scheduled for publication by Bloomsbury in 2019.


Marcia HarrisMarcia Harris will be talking before the screening of Precious. She will be talking about some of the issues that made the film quite controversial when it was released and divided critical opinion.

Marcia's interest in Children's rights led her to take her first degree as an adult, with a focus on Childhood Studies and Social Psychology, earning her a B.Sc. Social Sciences through the OU, which she gained whilst working and raising her now teenaged son.

Marcia holds a core belief that agency and power, especially a child's, grows strongest when nurtured from within, rather than bestowed upon us by acts of benevolence. Because of this she has become an NSPCC Schools program volunteer and a Home Start perinatal health coach.

She is also involved in several volunteer projects at Jamyang Buddhist centre and works for Jamyang's CIC, a unique combination of vegetarian cafe, garden and community. Marcia is a creative, a baker at heart, believing all art can be therapeutic.

Buy tickets for London SadFest 2017 - Sad Film Festival

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