The full line-up has been announced for this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, which runs from Wednesday 18th to Sunday 29th June. In total, 156 features from 47 countries will be screened, with 11 world premieres, 7 European premieres and 95 UK premieres.
The festival opens with the world premiere of British drug trafficking thriller Hyena from writer-director Gerard Johnson, starring Peter Ferdinando, Stephen Graham, Neil Maskell, and MyAnna Buring. The closing night gala is the international premiere of romantic comedy We’ll Never Have Paris, directed by husband and wife team Jocelyn Towne and Simon Helberg (best known for The Big Bang Theory). Written by and also starring Helberg, it features Melanie Lynskey, Maggie Grace, Zachary Quinto, and Alfred Molina in its cast.
The American Dreams strand highlights cutting-edge new works from American independent cinema. Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring featured last year, and now Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto will receive its UK premiere as part of the strand. David Gordon Green’s Joe and Jim Mickle’s Cold in July are among the other UK premieres in American Dreams, while international premiere highlights include the Aaron Paul-starring Hellion, the noirish We Gotta Get Out of This Place, adolescent road movie I Believe in Unicorns, and Sundance favourite The Skeleton Twins, starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader.
The Films on Film strand has comparatively fewer efforts than in previous years, but the documentaries it does have sound very enticing. Most exciting is A Fuller Life, which profiles maverick American director Samuel Fuller. Notable famous admirers of the man’s work use his own words to narrate his life story, and this selection of fans includes William Friedkin, Wim Wenders, Tim Roth, James Franco, Joe Dante, Monte Hellman, and Buck Henry. Joe Dante also features in That Guy Dick Miller, a profile of one of his regular stars, a cult icon character actor. Doc of the Dead, meanwhile, explores the history of the zombie in popular culture; it’s from the director of The People vs. George Lucas.
New Perspectives focuses on works by emerging filmmaking voices of note from around the world. Koji Fukada, the director of EIFF 2012 highlight Hospitalité, returns with Au revoir l’été, in which a girl on the cusp of adulthood learns about the deceptions of the adult world; it’s apparently infused with the spirit of Eric Rohmer. The spirit of Yasujirō Ozu, meanwhile, apparently informs Romanian family drama The Japanese Dog. Fernando Eimbcke’s Mexican Club Sandwich is another entry in the favoured festival genre of coming-of-age films, and has been the recipient of much praise elsewhere. World premiere Set Fire to the Stars, meanwhile, sees poet Dylan Thomas battle his personal demons in 1950s New York, with Elijah Wood and Kelly Reilly among the film’s supporting cast. New Perspectives is also host to many more films from the UK and Ireland, South Korea, Greece, Japan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Thailand, France, Poland, Norway, India, and Spain.
Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab team that had a part in Leviathan make a return to Edinburgh with Manakamana in the No Limits strand. Teen Spirit, meanwhile, highlights fiction films and documentaries concerning teenagers, including #ChicagoGirl – The Social Network Takes On a Dictator, a look at how the social media generation is making a political impact around the world. The Wicked and Wild strand focuses on sinister thrillers and horror films, and the UK premiere of Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno is among the selection, as is Honeymoon, starring Harry Treadaway and Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones).
Each festival instalment of late has had a focus on the contemporary output of a particular national cinema. This year, both Germany and Iran receive the treatment. In addition to this, in a particularly exciting development, there will be a run of older Iranian films screening as part of Interrupted Revolution: Iranian Cinema, 1962 to 1978. Dariush Mehrjui’s The Cow (1969), a key work of the Iranian New Wave, is among the films showing. Additional retrospective showings can be found in the spotlight on writer John McGrath, while there are also outdoor screenings of films like Gregory’s Girl and How to Train Your Dragon, and The Empire Strikes Back screens as part of a tie-in with Empire magazine’s readers poll of the greatest films of all time. Empire will also be hosting a series of Q&A events with filmmaking talent, with Elijah Wood among the confirmed guests so far.
Of final note for this preview is the Director’s Showcase strand. After much delay, sci-fi Snowpiercer finally receives a UK premiere at the festival; its director, Bong Joon-ho, headed the International Competition jury last year. Another recent guest making a return, if not necessarily in person, is Wang Bing, whose epic length documentary ‘Til Madness Do Us Part gets its UK debut. Bing’s Three Sisters was one of my EIFF highlights last year. The directors of past EIFF highlights One Two One and A Story of Children and Film, Mania Akbari and Mark Cousins, will also be bringing their collaboration Life May Be to the festival for its world premiere.
The directorial swan songs of Tsai Ming-liang both receive their UK premieres next month. There’s his Venice favourite Stray Dogs, as well as the 56 minute Journey to the West, a continuation of his ‘Walker’ series of films. Both feature regular collaborator Lee Kang Sheng, while the latter also stars Denis Lavant and is preceded by Wang Bing’s short film Traces. Elsewhere, there’s the collaborative 3D project Cathedrals of Culture, directed by Wim Wenders, Robert Redford, Karim Aïnouz, Michael Glawogger, Margreth Olin, and Michael Madsen. Anton Corbijn’s John le Carré adaptation A Most Wanted Man features one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final performances, while Abel Ferrara’s Welcome to New York, Denis Côté’s Joy of Man’s Desiring, Gillies Mackinnon’s Castles in the Sky, Raya Martin and Mark Peranson’s La última película, and Michel Gondry’s Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? will also play.
— Josh Slater-Williams