The programme for the 67th Edinburgh International Film Festival has launched and the selection looks every bit as eclectic and exciting as last year’s proved to be. For the second year running, artistic director Chris Fujiwara and his team have put together an unpredictable, intriguing and determinedly international array of films, allowing plenty of opportunity for emerging talents and lesser-known directors to showcase their work.
As well as the big opening and closing night gala films, respectively Breathe In and the world premiere of Scottish rom-com Not Another Happy Ending (starring Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan), the highlights include strands from South Korea, America and Sweden, Jean Grémillon and Richard Fleischer retrospectives, and several interesting-looking documentaries.
Due to the variety and unconventiality of the selection, it is difficult, and not entirely preferable, to pick out a list of sure-fire hits, but here are ten films that you should certainly check out at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Before Snowfall (Hisham Zaman)
Kurdish-Norwegian director Hisham Zaman’s ambitious debut follows a young man from Iraqi-Kurdistan, travelling through the Middle East and Europe to track down his runaway sister. Well-received at Tribeca, it promises to be an engaging journey of self-discovery, set against a backdrop of weighty cultural tradition and a rapidly changing environment.
The Bling Ring (Sofia Coppola)
Sofia Coppola’s last film, Somewhere, was a introspective inside look into the less glamorous side of Hollywood life. Starring Emma Watson, The Bling Ring utilises the same setting but looks more upbeat and accessible, focusing on a group of frivolous teenagers who rob celebrities’ homes. On paper, arguably the biggest film of this year’s programme.
Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari (Aleksey Fedorchenko)
Focusing on the eccentric rituals of the Meadow Mari of the Ural Mountains, this new film from the director of Silent Souls looks almost startlingly unique. Playful and visually striking, it promises to be an affectionate glimpse into a mysterious, folkloric world.
For Those in Peril (Paul Wright)
Paul Wright’s debut feature was given a screening at Cannes, where it won high praise for its emotional intensity and experimentalism. The stand-out of EIFF’s Michael Powell Award Competition strand, made up of the best new British films, For Those in Peril is set in a remote Scottish fishing community and deals with the psychological reverberations of a fatal tragedy.
Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)
Tipped to be indie director Noah Baumbach’s best film yet, Frances Ha is a warm, vibrant comedy, set in New York and shot in sumptuous black and white. Judging by the reviews, it is a highly-accomplished charmer featuring a triumphant performance from Greta Gerwig. Looks like a modernised version of a Woody Allen classic.
Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel)
Making a huge impact around the festival circuit, Leviathan is a groundbreaking documentary shot on an Atlantic Ocean fishing trawler. It has been described as a visceral sensory experience, hallucinatory and disorientating, with near-impossible camerawork that gets right into the machinery of the ship and the rhythm of the sea.
Magic Magic (Sebastián Silva)
One of the most exciting actresses around, Juno Temple thrilled EIFF audiences last year with a tantalising performance in the twisted black comedy Killer Joe. Here she plays a young woman losing her head in an isolated Chilean cabin, alongside Michael Cera in what appears to be his darkest role to date.
Oh Boy (Jan Ole Gerster)
Shot in black and white, this quirky indie comedy follows a hapless young slacker through Berlin over the course of a single day. With a star performance by Tom Schiller, it looks like an effortless, refreshingly straightforward film, as well as a loving paean to the German capital.
A Story of Children and Film (Mark Cousins)
Since his encyclopaedic documentary series, The Story of Film, had such an impact, Mark Cousins has been an essential voice in the world of cinema. A knowledgeable, passionate and idiosyncratic commentator, his latest project is a typically spontaneous cine-essay, this time meditating on the portrayal of children in an incredibly diverse range of international films.
Upstream Color (Shane Carruth)
The one film you don’t want to miss, Shane Carruth’s follow-up to his lo-fi sci-fi masterpiece, Primer, is guaranteed to be one of EIFF’s big talking points. Upstream Color has the same look and feel of its predecessor, an oblique, experimental piece of cinema that works, not because of the plot’s manifold convolutions, but because of the human drama that overlays it. See it and see it again.