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East End Film Festival: Review of “Snackbar”

Last night saw the UK premiere of Dutch film Snackbar screen at the Rio in Dalston. The story was based around a group of Moroccan young men spending their days dabbling in this and that. Sometimes in crime, violence and drug use. Other times in not very much at all. At the centre is Ali who owns the snackbar where they hang out, and who is a kind of father figure to all of them. I’m reluctant to whip out the term ‘gang’ here, because what we have is a pretty realistic portrayal of young people who know little else other than the harshness they have encountered since birth – at home and on the streets. What is interesting about this film is how it  spanned two genres. Director Meral Uslu was originally a documentary film maker, and it shows. Snackbar is not quite feature film and not quite documentary. In this way the story had a linear pace and structure but with the odd documentary style snapshot. It was here that we delved a little deeper into each character’s individual history, and sure enough the same old issues came out. Broken homes, poor mental health, displacement, poverty, drugs. The list goes on. Whereas the content was perhaps not telling us anything new, it’s Uslu’s style that shone. But then he probably wasn’t trying to tell us anything new, only that these same problems plague those at the raw end of society no matter where you are.

For the full East End Film Festival programme see their website

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