London SadFest: A festival of sad films 3-5 March 2017

Elephant Man

SadFest 2017

3-5 March 2017

Genesis Cinema, London

SadFest website

Our friends are starting a new festival in London and it’s all about sadness. Here’s what they say:

London SadFest 2017: The Saddest Weekend You’ll Spend in London – Ever.
(And You’ll Love it!)

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

Blue Monday is the name given to the saddest day of the year. Some people say it is the last Monday in January, others argue that it’s actually later in February when winter is at its bitterest and the disappointments of Valentine’s Day have really started to sink in.

One thing though is for sure, the saddest weekend in London this year will be the first weekend in March, because that’s when the London SadFest 2017 will be taking place at the Genesis Cinema in Mile End.

Festival organiser Steve Todd says, “this is a festival for anybody that loves really sad and heart-breaking films. We’ve got a great line up of beautiful films and some really interesting speakers, live music performances and some sad poetry too. But above all, it is a place where you can come and cry your heart in out in great company!”

Why would anybody want to go to see so many sad films in one weekend?

Recent research by Prof. Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at Oxford University, suggests that people might actually feel good after watching sad films. Higher endorphin levels leave people feeling more socially connected and stronger to deal with psychological pain.

“We seem to be scared of sadness as a society, we’re always running away from it. I think we need to stop running and instead face up to and even embrace sadness. It’s a big part of being human and I think it’s at the heart of our feelings of compassion.”, says Steve Todd.

Can a festival of sad films really be called a ‘festival’?

The organisers think so, “we’re hoping the talks and Q&A after the screenings as well as the live performance track and after show-events will really create a strong feeling of coming together as festival community. The celebration aspect is just as important as the sadness.”

The festival kicks off with a launch event on Friday 3rd March, showing “The Elephant Man” by David Lynch, chosen as the world’s most influential director by film critics. It is an extraordinarily beautiful and sad film and is set in the Whitechapel area where the festival is taking place. Dr Åsa Jansson from Queen Mary’s Centre for the History of Emotions will be giving a talk after the film with a Q&A, followed by a drinks reception and live music performances.

The festival runs until Sunday evening along with a full track of live music performances, poetry, talks and spoken word performances. The films include: Ken Loach’s “Kes”, a sad classic and number 7 in the BFI top 100 British Films list; Wong Kar Wai’s melancholy delight from 2000: “In the Mood For Love”; “Sophie’s Choice” with an amazing performance from Meryl Streep and Lee Daniels’ powerfully moving “Precious” from 2009.

Every ticket sold will also include a donation to the Samaritans charity to support their amazing work.


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

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

Music: Ana Zed and Lou Welby, Emmanuel Speaks, David Callahan (solo performance), Garden City Projects, Robert Paul, Kaya (Science of the Lamps), Joseph Paice, Chris Hodgkinson, Nappa

Poetry: Jeff Hilson, Brian Docherty

Performance: Dan Horrigan

Talks: “The Tyranny of Happiness and the Medicalisation of Misery”, Dr Angela Byrne; “Mad, Bad, Sad and Dangerous”, Raza Griffiths.

DJ Evil Elvis will be playing sad old songs from the 50s on his dancette record player.

More poetry and spoken word performers to be announced soon…

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

For full programme details amd to book tickets go to the SadFest website.