Tragic loss of Lewes film-maker Joseph Lang


Tributes have been paid this week to Lewes film-maker Joseph Lang, 33, who has been found dead in Vietnam.

The work of the writer and producer was described as “terrific”.

Mr Lang’s credits include the critically-acclaimed 2008 film Soi Cowboy, directed by Hove-based film director Thomas Clay.

He also co-wrote and produced Clay’s controversial 2005 feature The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, which starred Danny Dyer and Lesley Manville.

The film, about three teenagers’ drug-fuelled descent into violence was set in Newhaven and prompted an audience walkout at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005.

Mr Lang, a former pupil at Priory School, Lewes, developed a passion for cinema from an early age.

He graduated from London South Bank University with a first-class degree in politics and media before working briefly as a journalist and, more recently, as an assistant to a special adviser at the Department of Energy and Climate Change under Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State.

The first film Mr Lang worked on was Motion (2001), also directed by Mr Clay, about a homeless man in Brighton. It was made over a period of 18 months on a budget of just £3,000.

He subsequently fitted in other work around his film-making and had been teaching English in Vietnam in the four months leading up to his death. His body was found outside a medical centre i n Ho Chi Minh City. The cause of death was not known and his family was awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination.

Mr Clay, who worked with Mr Lan g for 16 years and was developing a third feature with him at the time of his death, said: “Joe was my closest colleague and best friend. That he was able to get our truly independent films into Cannes and distributed in so many countries around the world I believe to be a unique achievement in the British film industry.

The film critic Agnes Poirier said: “The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael was daring, beautiful and uncompromising. Every film critic dreams of such a moment: the discovery of raw and pure talent.

“I was particularly delighted to get [Mr Lang’s] second film with Clay, Soi Cowboy, selected in Cannes again, in 2008.”

Nik Powell, director of the National Film and Television School, said: “Joseph was a terrific producer, making highly original and hard-edged, extreme films.

“It is a great tragedy that he is no longer with us to make more unique films.”