Results for category "EIFF 2013"

About Time **

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Run Time: 119 mins Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: In Richard Curtis’s latest romantic comedy, Tim (Domnhall Gleeson) discovers he can travel through time and decides to use his abilities to make his life better.

 

At the beginning of the movie we are introduced to Tim (Domnhall Gleeson), a young man from Cornwall who lacks confidence. Following a New Year party, the 21-year-old is told by his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in his family have a special ability: time travel. While he can’t go beyond the start of his own life, he can change things that have happened to him so Tim decides this could help him get a girlfriend. Initially his attempts fail as the girl he likes doesn’t share his feelings, but on moving to London he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and travels back and forth in time to try and win her heart.

 

The addition of time travel to a romantic comedy gave “About Time” a lot of potential, however this aspect is dealt with badly. The writer applies no rules whatsoever and there are a lot of inconsistencies in the story.

 

Throughout the movie there is no conflict whatsoever. Once the two main characters are together, they never fight once. Every event during their life together seems to go smoothly and there are no disagreements about parents, wedding plans or even day to day issues. This makes the characters feel somewhat one dimensional.

 

The film features some good acting, particularly from Bill Nighy and Tom Hollander. However a weak script and lack of depth mean they have less scope to perform well. Gleeson is very bland in his role as Tim and while McAdams is pleasant enough to watch, her character is quite flat.

 

Overall, “About Time” was disappointing. While the idea was good, its weak humour and idealistic story let it down.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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*Originally reviewed at EIFF

EIFF 2013 Winners announced

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The winners of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival awards have been announced.

The Award for Best Film in the International Competition was presented to Mahdi Fleifel’s A World Not Ours.

The jury said: “The International Jury loved this film’s warm regard for the people at the heart of the film. A difficult subject was handled with confidence and humour. We hope that many more people get the opportunity to see A World Not Ours.”

Mahdi Fleifel said: “I am immensely grateful to the programmers at the EIFF for inviting my film. I have lived, studied and worked in the UK for 13 years, but I’ve never managed to screen any of my work at a single British film event – not even my short films which were pretty successful internationally. Winning the prize in Britain’s No. 1 Film Festival is too good to be true. I hope this will help bring our film to a wider audience in the UK and I would like to thank the jury for this wonderful honour.”

The jury also gave a special mention to Elias Giannakakis’ Joy. The citation read: “The Jury would like to make special mention of Elias Giannakakis’ unique character study in Joy and an outstanding performance by Amalia Moutousi.”

The Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film went to Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s Leviathan.

The winner was chosen by the Michael Powell Jury, chaired by Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf and including actor and director Kevin McKidd and film critic Derek Malcolm. The jury described the film “as an original and imaginative documentary which observes the brutal routine of deep sea fishing in a way which completely immerses the watcher in its story.”

Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel said: “We are totally bowled over by the news of this award. All our films have been rejected by every British film festival to date, so it is all the more moving for us! We also admire in so many ways the work of this jury, which makes this award especially meaningful to us both. It also gives us the courage and conviction to continue to keep pushing at the envelope – of cinema, of documentary, of art.”

The jury awarded a special commendation to Paul Wright’s For Those In Peril “for its passionate portrait of a young Scots survivor of a tragedy at sea.”

The Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film was shared by Jamie Blackley and Toby Regbo for their performances as the dysfunctional schoolboys in uwantme2killhim? The performance awards were voted for by the Michael Powell Award Competition Jury.

Jamie Blackley said: “I felt lucky enough to hear that two films I was in had been selected for the EIFF, so to then win this award is a wonderful shock that I wasn’t expecting and I am proud to share it with Toby. I’d like to thank Andrew Douglas and the cast and crew for making the experience so special for me and to EIFF for making me feel so welcome.”

Co-star Toby Regbo added: “I’m absolutely over the moon. Making this film was so positive: a really interesting story, a great director and a superb actor to work opposite, what more could you want really? I’d like to say thank you to the EIFF for supporting British independent film and young actors.”

Reinstated in 2013 after a two-year absence, The Audience Award, supported by Sainsbury’s Bank, went to Fire in the Night, directed by Anthony Wonke for his deeply moving documentary detailing the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea. The film, which received its World Premiere at the Festival, skilfully combines archival footage, audio recordings and interviews with some of the 61 survivors of the disaster, some of whom are interviewed for the very first time.
Voted for by cinema-goers attending public screenings.

Anthony Wonke said: “It’s 25 years ago this July that Piper Alpha exploded and sunk into the North Sea and we hope that with this film the memory of that fateful night that affected so many lives will act as a suitable remembrance. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for Fire in the Night, it really does mean an awful lot to everyone involved especially all the men who took part in the film. I know that they will be incredibly touched and thankful that the public engaged with this film and their story in such a positive way.”

EIFF Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara said: “The Audience Award, which we reinstated this year after a two-year hiatus, is not only one of the most significant of EIFF’s initiatives designed to engage audiences with cinema, it’s also one of the most fun. We’re delighted by the enthusiasm shown by our audience members who took part in choosing this award, and we’re grateful for the support and commitment of Sainsbury’s Bank.”

GHL by Lotte Schreiber won The Award for Best Short Film in the shorts category. The prize was one of three awards bestowed by the Short Film Competition Jury, which included International Film Festival Rotterdam programmer Inge de Leeuw (chair), film critic Christoph Huber and independent film programmer Ricardo Matos Cabo.

The jury citation read: “The jury unanimously gives this prize for Best Short Film to a visually and rhythmically precise architectural study that doubles as a portrait of current social changes with the ghost of capitalism haunting the space of a popular landmark of communal recreation erected as a socialist utopia in Vienna.

Lotte Schreiber said: “I am very proud to receive this amazing award from this fantastic film festival, which is the most exciting one I’ve ever received! I’m proud of my little team and I want to thank them all for their precious contribution to this little movie: especially Johannes Hammel, who did the breathtaking camerawork and Michael Krassnitzer for his perfect low-key acting. This award makes me sure to keep on filmmaking, even under extremely tough economic circumstances, which will probably become even tougher for all of us independent filmmakers in the next years. But it’s worth carrying on! I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Festival Programme Committee who has selected the Film to be part of the International Competition at EIFF and likewise to the Short Film jury members, who have put their whole confidence into this little Viennese movie.”

The Award for Creative Innovation in a Short Film, given for the first time this year, was awarded to Doll Parts by Muzi Quawson, as voted for by the Shorts Jury.

Another newly introduced award within the shorts category, The Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to a Short Film, which celebrates imaginative and innovative work in short cinema, was awarded to Josh Gibson as Director of Photography of Light Plate, which he also directed.

The jury citation read: “The prize for outstanding contribution to a short film goes to the camerawork of a magical landscape study, capturing a day in the Tuscan countryside with a series of subtle, imaginative and mesmerizingly textured images forged with careful attention to the possibilities and beauty of 35mm films.”

Josh Gibson said: “I am honoured and humbled to receive this award and to be recognized along with this small, personal film at such a prestigious international film festival, brimming with work by talented people that I have admired for a long time. Unlike feature films, short films are delicate creatures that owe much to the programming. In shorts programmes the individual films reverberate against one another, sometimes changing fundamentally depending upon the other pieces in the programme. I especially want to thank the EIFF programmers for finding a place for Light Plate where its particular point of view and visual preoccupations could be acknowledged and admired.”

As voted for by the audience, The McLaren Award for Best New British Animation, supported by the British Council, went to Marilyn Myller by director Mikey Please and co-animator Dan Ojari.

Mikey Please said: “The team and I are absolutely thrilled to receive the prestigious McLaren Award. We hope that our gonzo, the-rules-are-there-to-break-them approach to filmmaking was very much in a spirit that would have made Norman proud. This was Marilyn’s World premiere, so naturally we were very nervous about how she’d be received. To have the warm welcome of an audience vote is wonderful, the best result we could have possibly hoped for.”

The Student Critics Jury Award, supported by Morag and James Anderson, was awarded to Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari by Alexey Fedorchenko.

The jury citation read: “Bearing in mind what the Artistic Director said, film is reality and also something more. A witty, perceptive and beautiful celebration of folk mythologies”.

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EIFF: Day 6

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The Conjuring ****

USA/Director James Wan/112 mins

Based on true events, James Wan’s 2013 horror movie tells the story of a family that finds their house tormented by evil spirits. In an attempt to get rid of the demons, the family calls on psychic investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) to help them.

The sound is excellent, particularly the creaking and banging sounds made by the spirits at regular intervals throughout the film. Combined with the use of a handheld camera that follows the characters through the house, this creates a scary atmosphere that will have the audience holding onto their seats.

“The Conjuring” has well developed characters and relationships between the Warren and Perron families feature heavily throughout the movie. This adds a level of depth that is rarely seen in horror films.

In terms of acting, Lili Taylor stands out in her role as a mother possessed by demons Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga also give great performances as the couple who arrive to investigate while Joey King is enjoyable to watch as Christine, the child who is most affected by the spirits’ presence.

With its old school scary movie theme, real life basis and top class cinematography, “The Conjuring” is a must see for any horror fan.

I Am Breathing ***
UK/Directors Emma Davie and Morgan McKinnon/73 mins

“I Am Breathing” documents the final days of Neil Platt, a young man suffering from Motor Neurone Disease. Narrated by Neil himself and featuring interviews with his friends and family, the documentary gives an intimate view of the months leading to his death.

While the subject matter is interesting, the film tells the audience very little about the actual illness. There is very little explanation of what Motor Neurone Disease is and no appearances from health professionals.

The film works well as a video blog, however Neil’s dialogue gives the viewer only snippets of information about his life and diagnosis and is broken up by random scenes including country roads and sunsets.

Overall, “I Am Breathing” is disappointing. While the audience gets to know Neil as a person, the lack of focus on the subject matter does very little to raise public awareness of Motor Neurone Disease.

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

EIFF: Day 5

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We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks ****
USA/Director Alex Gibney/130 mins

 

“We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks” tells the story of Australian hacker Julian Assange’s website that was designed to expose classified information to the public.

 

Featuring one to one interviews with those involved in Wikileaks directly or otherwise, the documentary gives a detailed and unbiased account of the website’s lifespan.

 

While Assange initially appears to have good intentions, his practices become more corrupt over time and almost go full circle in terms of sharing and withholding information.

 

Other parties involved range from computer hackers to respected journalists. While some appear to have a genuine interest in exposing corrupt practices, others are clearly in it for personal gain. This is particularly apparent when hacker Adrian Lamo befriends an information source then turns him in.

 

The film is nicely structured and flows well. At 130 minutes it is slightly long but a lot of information is covered in that time and most of it is important to the story.

 

Overall, the documentary is enjoyable and informative. While it could have been shortened slightly, it is well written and answers all the audience’s questions.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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EIFF: Day 4

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Monsters University ****
USA/Director Dan Scanlon/110 mins

 

A direct prequel to the original “Monsters Inc”, the movie tells the story of how Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) met and came to work in the factory.

 

The film begins when Mike (Crystal) visits the factory on a school trip and decides he wants to become a scarer. Years later, Mike begins studying at Monsters University where he meets Sully (Goodman), a monster with an established family history.

 

The story is enjoyable and relates to the original while still providing a good level of suspense to the audience. Throughout the movie, Mike and Sully experience the highs and lows of University life and have a turbulent relationship prior to joining forces.

 

Both Goodman and Crystal give great performances as the lead characters. The supporting cast includes Steve Buschemi as Randy and Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble, both of whom also perform to a high standard.

 

The animation is top class and looks great in 3D. The soundtrack is also fun and appropriate to the film.

 

While “Monsters University” is not as good as the original, it is an entertaining and fun movie that ties things up nicely.

 

Old Stock ***
Canada/Director James Genn/85 mins

 

Stock Burton (Noah Reid) is a young man who has spent the last 2 years in a retirement home following traumatic events. At the beginning of the movie he is asked to leave the residence, forcing him to face his demons.

 

Throughout the film, Stock tries to get his life back on track by getting a job, dating dance teacher Patti (Melanie Leishman) and trying to fix the issues from his past. While it doesn’t flow particularly well, the story has a reasonable amount of depth and doesn’t reveal everything right away.

 

There is also a subplot involving his grandparents’ relationship which adds some comedy to the story, particularly the antics of Stock’s grandfather Harold (Danny Wells).

 

The actors all give reasonably good performances, the highlight being Gene Mack as comic pensioner Wendel. The other residents of the retirement home are also entertaining and give a realistic portrayal of their generation.

 

While the story is poorly structured and does not really go anywhere, “Old Stock” is a pleasant movie to watch.

 

Oh Boy ***
Germany/Director Jan Ole Gerster/83 mins

 

Starring Tom Schilling as the lead character, “Oh Boy” tells the story of Niko Fischer, a young man who has dropped out of University and is drifting through life in Berlin.

 

The film is shot in black and white and is in German with English subtitles. This gives it a somewhat “arthouse” feel which appears promising.

 

Throughout the movie, Niko comes into contact with a variety of people including his father, an actor friend and a girl he went to school with. While the interactions would be interesting if there was a link between them, they seem rather pointless as each character appears once and is never mentioned again.

 

The story lacks structure and doesn’t go anywhere. Niko drifts in and out of situations with no explanation. This creates plot holes and leaves the viewer questioning why each scene is included. The ending is also disappointing as nothing gets tied up and Niko is no further forward.

 

While “Oh Boy” is nicely shot and reasonably pleasant to watch, the story is all over the place and has too many loose ends.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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EIFF: Day 3

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The Great Hip Hop Hoax ****
UK/Director Jeanie Finlay/88 mins

 

Jeanie Finlay’s documentary tells the story of Billy and Gavin, two young rappers from Arbroath who create personas to help secure a record deal. The film follows their journey from their life back home to their success as rappers and their eventual decline.

 

Looking back on the footage from Billy and Gavin’s career, viewers are likely to wonder how they fooled so many people. Neither had their backstories worked out prior to making their decision, resulting in inconsistencies.

 

One to one interviews feature heavily, giving the audience an in depth look at the story from both the participants’ points of view and those of their friends, family and people in the music industry. This makes the documentary both authentic and unbiased.

 

The only minor criticism that could be found is that the film leaves the audience hanging with regards to Billy and Gavin’s friendship. Having followed them through the entire story, it is slightly disappointing not to see the outcome.

 

Overall, a very enjoyable and entertaining movie.

 

We Are The Freaks *
UK/Director Justin Edgar/80 mins

 

Written and directed by Justin Edgar, “We Are The Freaks” follows three teenage friends living in Birmingham in 1990.

 

The first five minutes of the film in which we are introduced to lead character and narrator Jack (Jamie Blackley) appear promising, however it quickly descends into a poorly structured story with one dimensional characters.

 

Despite Edgar’s attempts to create an enjoyable teen comedy, the story is bland and immature. As the events of the characters’ lives unfold, it becomes somewhat like the Inbetweeners gone wrong and the audience will likely cringe rather than laugh.

 

While the idea was good, the actual film is a huge disappointment.

 

Hawking ****
UK/Director Stephen Finnigan/86 mins

 

Written and narrated by Stephen Hawking himself, the documentary follows the scientist from birth to the present day, focusing on his rise to fame and battle with motor neurone disease.

 

Featuring one on one interviews with Hawking’s family, care staff and former students, the film begins with Hawking’s early life in Oxford then progresses to his life as a student in Cambridge and diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease.

 

Despite being given a short time to live in his early 20s, Hawking goes on to live a full and active life in which he completes a PHD and gets married. To this day he continues to work and doesn’t let his declining health define him.

 

Hawking himself is admirable, however his ex wife Jane truly shines as a loyal and supportive figure in his life. Despite knowing about his illness she sticks by him and the eventual breakdown of their marriage is unrelated. Throughout his career, he also has great support from his staff and students.

 

Overall, “Hawking” is a great documentary that gives a “fly on the wall” insight into his life. Hawking’s narration is by far the best thing about the movie and adds a personal touch that no other narrator could.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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EIFF: Day 2

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Shooting Bigfoot: ****
US/ Director Morgan Matthews /90mins

 

Shooting Bigfoot is a documentary, however it feels more like a mockumentary with humourous & colourful characters. The movie is directed and presented by award-winning documentary filmmaker, Morgan Matthews.

 

The movie follows three different humters. Dallas and Wayne are two old men who have devoted their lives to finding the creature. Dallas has been retired since an injury at work, and claims he was attacked by a Bigfoot. The two friends who play cassettes of animal noises in the wilderness in order to attract the monster. Tom Biscardi, a Bigfoot documentarian who comes across as an egotistical maniac who verbally abuses people even his wife. Finally Rick Dyer who has been involved in a recent hoax and even manipulates his own little daughter into believing the creature is real.

 

The focus is primarily on Dyer’s adventure into Texan woods. The other strands are really entertaining, but when they end unexpectedly and without any satisfactory conclusion it is a little frustrating.

 

Matthews has made a compelling and extremely entertaining documentary. It is hard to say if the film is truly non fiction or a work of fiction as the interviewees and what they say are so hilarious, it feels like it is too good to be true.

 

Svengali: **
UK/ Director John Hardwick / 90mins

 

Based on writer and actor Jonny Owen’s original five-minute webisodes, the film is about Paul ‘Dixie’ Dean (Owen) who stumbles across unsigned band The Premature Congratulations (eventually shortened to ‘The Prems’) and heads to London with his girlfriend Shell (Vicky McClure). He wants to become their manager and make them famous. He confuses the industry by giving out audio-cassettes, but attracts interest of from various people including Alan McGee (as himself). But in order to succeed he must overcome financial, family and band problems in order to make his dream to be a music Svengali to become true.

 

What might of worked as a short web based idea, certainly does not work as a full length feature. The plot feels very episodic, rather than cinematic.The main character is continually ridiculed for being Welsh and stupid. This kind of humour would have been funny in the 60’s and 70’s TV sitcoms of yesteryear, but not now.

 

The other problem is that celebrity names (Martin Freeman, Katy Brand and The Libertines’ Carl Barat) are brought in to the story in roles that are not necessary to the story. It feels more like a commercial exercise.

 

If it was not for McClure as the feisty girlfriend, the film would be an absolute disaster. An unoriginal idea that has been done before in a better version notably in Still Crazy.

 

Frances Ha ****
US/ Director Noah Baumbach / 86mins

 

The Squid and the Whale auteur Noah Baumbach returns with a black and white comedic melodrama which totally feels like a 1960’s French New Wave cinema piece.

 

An aspiring dancer 27 year old Frances (Greta Gerwig) hopes of becoming a professional dancer are becoming less successful. She is broke, and has no fixed abode. Making matters even worse her best friend Sophie (Mickey Summer) is spending all her time with her boring boyfriend.

 

A surprisingly uplifting and fun film with superb performances by all, most notably from Gerwig. Strangely audiences will feel sympathy for a character who is not entirely likeable. All her problems are of her own doing. The awkwardness of her experiences can be felt by everyone as most people have encountered these situations in life at one time or another.

 

Greta Gerwig’s performance is Oscar-worthy. She gives subtle facial expressions that show a range of mixed emotions while conveying something different to a character she is interacting with.

 

The highlight of the film is a beautiful extended tracking shot of Frances dancing and running down the street, while David Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’ plays in the background. This sequence will make even the hardest heart smile. A powerful and touching piece of work.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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EIFF: Day 1

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The East: ****
US/ Director Zal Batmanglij / 116mins

 

Brit Marling’s makes her second film with director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij with an original thought provoking political thriller.

 

Sarah is a private intel spy sent to undercover among to find a gang of anti-corporate terrorists. She finally infiltrates the hippie terrorist commune headed by Benji (Alexander Skarsgård).
Sarah soon ends up having the group’s trust & helps them with their plots.

 

Marling and Batmanglij have made an intriguing and original premise about the problems with capitalism.

 

The filmmakers have enlisted a fantastic bunch of actors to the mixture. Ellen Page plays the usual tomboy with attitude character, Skarsgård is the mysterious unconcerned leader of the group, while Toby Kebbell brings heart and soul to the piece as the caring and tortured Doc. However it seems a strange decision to make Shiloh Fernandez’s character look like a Johnny Depp impersonator.

 

Batmanglij composes each scene with close ups and tight shots which gives the film a claustrophobic, but more personal experience. There are no bright lit backgrounds or colours, but dull monotonous shades which gives a 1970’s movie feel.

 

The plot has a slow pace, but never feels long or dragged out. It is similiar in tone to The Purge. Unfortunately
The story becomes convulted predictable and cliched within the third act. When Sarah’s arc becomes more about romance and giving a rather pointless lecture to her boss.

 

However the movie has enough drive going for it to be an enjoyable, tense and intelligent piece of cinema.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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EIFF 2013 Programme Launched

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Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara has announced the details of the programme for the 67th edition of Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF).

This year the Festival, which runs from 19-30 June, will showcase 146 features from 53 countries, including 14 World premieres, 6 international premieres and 10 European premieres.

 

The Festival boasts 125 new features, with highlights including FOR THOSE IN PERIL, the debut feature by Paul Wright, a contender for the Michael Powell Award, starring newcomer George MacKay and Kate Dickie. Alex Gibney’s controversial WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS screens within Directors’ Showcase. Noah Baumbach brings FRANCES HA to the Festival with co- writer and star Greta Gerwig, as part of the American Dreams strand which also includes Sofia Coppola’s depiction of fame-obsessed teens, THE BLING RING.

 

Special Screenings include FIRE IN THE NIGHT, which receives its World premiere ahead of the 6 July anniversary of the Piper Alpha North Sea oil rig disaster of 1988. JURASSIC PARK 3D and the 1950 landmark Scottish film THE GORBALS STORY are two of the 21 classic titles in the Festival.

 

EIFF Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara said: “I’m very proud that in my second year at the Festival we’ve again put together a programme that reflects our festival’s commitment to international cinema, while giving our audiences opportunities to discover a broad range of outstanding work from British filmmakers. This year we take the Festival in a number of new directions. In our new “American Dreams” strand we bring the highlights from an exceptionally good year for American independent cinema. In our Focuses on Korea and Sweden, we recognise films that represent the artistic vitality and social commitment of two strong filmmaking nations. Our “New Realities” strand reaffirms our Festival’s continuing support for documentary filmmaking. And “Not Another Teen Movie” is a new section programmed by 15-19-year-olds for their peers. Altogether, our programme is filled with films that I’m sure our audiences will find exciting and inspiring.”

 

British films competing for the Michael Powell Award include 7 World premieres and 6 feature debuts. Among the Michael Powell Award contenders are the captivating Scottish tale of belonging and loss BLACKBIRD by Jamie Chambers; the black comedy EVERYONE’S GOING TO DIE by the two-person collective ‘Jones’; Paul Wright’s FOR THOSE IN PERIL; DUMMY JIM by Matt Hulse; MISTER JOHN by Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy; and John Hardwick’s SVENGALI, expanded from a YouTube series. A LONG WAY FROM HOME by Virginia Gilbert stars Natalie Dormer, who serves on the International Feature Film Competition jury; while THE SEA by Stephen Brown stars Ciarán Hinds and Charlotte Rampling. A documentary feature competing is LEVIATHAN by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel. Completing the selection are UWANTME2KILLHIM? by Andrew Douglas, based on true events, WE ARE THE FREAKS by Justin Edgar, in which misfit teens go on an all-nighter, and NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING, the Festival’s Closing Gala film, directed by John McKay.

 

The Festival boasts 125 new features, with highlights including FOR THOSE IN PERIL, the debut feature by Paul Wright, a contender for the Michael Powell Award, starring newcomer George MacKay and Kate Dickie. Alex Gibney’s controversial WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS screens within Directors’ Showcase. Noah Baumbach brings FRANCES HA to the Festival with co- writer and star Greta Gerwig, as part of the American Dreams strand which also includes Sofia Coppola’s depiction of fame-obsessed teens, THE BLING RING. Special Screenings include FIRE IN THE NIGHT, which receives its World premiere ahead of the 6 July anniversary of the Piper Alpha North Sea oil rig disaster of 1988. JURASSIC PARK 3D and the 1950 landmark Scottish film THE GORBALS STORY are two of the 21 classic titles in the Festival.

 

EIFF Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara said: “I’m very proud that in my second year at the Festival we’ve again put together a programme that reflects our festival’s commitment to international cinema, while giving our audiences opportunities to discover a broad range of outstanding work from British filmmakers. This year we take the Festival in a number of new directions. In our new “American Dreams” strand we bring the highlights from an exceptionally good year for American independent cinema. In our Focuses on Korea and Sweden, we recognise films that represent the artistic vitality and social commitment of two strong filmmaking nations. Our “New Realities” strand reaffirms our Festival’s continuing support for documentary filmmaking. And “Not Another Teen Movie” is a new section programmed by 15-19-year-olds for their peers. Altogether, our programme is filled with films that I’m sure our audiences will find exciting and inspiring.”

 

British films competing for the Michael Powell Award include 7 World premieres and 6 feature debuts. Among the Michael Powell Award contenders are the captivating Scottish tale of belonging and loss BLACKBIRD by Jamie Chambers; the black comedy EVERYONE’S GOING TO DIE by the two-person collective ‘Jones’; Paul Wright’s FOR THOSE IN PERIL; DUMMY JIM by Matt Hulse; MISTER JOHN by Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy; and John Hardwick’s SVENGALI, expanded from a YouTube series.

 

The International selection introduces debuts from Mahdi Fleifel with A WORLD NOT OURS, a portrait of family life in a Palestinian refugee camp; Iraqi-Kurdistan-born director Hisham Zaman with BEFORE SNOWFALL a coming-of-age odyssey from East to West; and Argentine director Leonardo Brzezicki, who paints an erotic psychological landscape with sound in NOCHE. The European premiere of JOY by Greek documentary filmmaker Elias Giannakakis competes along with titles such as Alexey Fedorchenko’s CELESTIAL WIVES OF THE MEADOW MARI which focuses on the rites and customs of a Russian ethnic group; a dreamlike allegory set in Tehran, FAT SHAKER by Mohammad Shirvani; and I.D. by writer-director Kamal K.M. based on a real incident in Mumbai. JUVENILE OFFENDER, a gritty story of family neglect in Korea by Kang Yi-kwan, and OF SNAILS AND MEN, a Romanian post-Communist era social satire by Tudor Giurgiu, round out the International Feature Film Competition.

 

There are a number of Special Screenings across the Festival, including the World premiere of THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES from co-directors James Erskine and Zara Hayes about the historic 1973 tennis match between Wimbledon winner Billie Jean King and retired champion and self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs; and, receiving its European premiere, HAWKING, for which filmmaker Stephen Finnigan was given unprecedented access to the world’s most famous living physicist, Stephen Hawking. I AM BREATHING tells the true story of Neil Platt following his diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease just months after the birth of his son; the film screens in the Festival ahead of MND Global Awareness Day on Friday 21 June. There will also be a chance to see on the big screen the first two episodes of BBC Two’s crime drama PEAKY BLINDERS, set in the lawless streets of post-war Birmingham on the cusp of the 1920s, starring Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory and Sam Neill.

 

The American Dreams strand includes the European premiere of Scott McGehee’s WHAT MAISIE KNEW, a modern story based on the Henry James novel; Sebastian Silva’s MAGIC MAGIC, which reveals a star turn by Juno Temple; and THE EAST, which stars Brit Marling, who co-wrote with director Zal Batmanglij. International premieres include Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s C.O.G., adapted from humourist David Sedaris’s autobiographical essay; the sci-fi thriller UPSTREAM COLOUR by writer-director and actor Shane Carruth; and THIS IS MARTIN BONNER from Chad Hartigan, in which an unlikely friendship blossoms.

 

EIFF is privileged to welcome to Edinburgh one of the world’s greatest animators, Richard Williams, to celebrate his work with a retrospective, RICHARD WILLIAMS: 80 ANIMATED YEARS. This screening is in partnership with Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival and charts the development of Williams’s animated career. Williams will also present the coveted McLaren Award, which provides a focus for new British short animation. This year marks a new partnership with the British Council, which will see films selected from the McLaren Award competition for an international touring programme representing the best contemporary British animation.

 

The Directors’ Showcase presents work from established auteur directors and emerging talents with 23 films from 17 countries. The selection includes 6 documentaries including Thomas Riedelsheimer’s BREATHING EARTH SUSUMU SHINGU’S DREAM, following artist Susumu Shingu; and actor and director Sarah Polley’s intimate family portrait STORIES WE TELL. Narrative films cover a variety of genres and include high-speed Hong-Kong cop film MOTORWAY directed by Pou-Soi Cheang and produced by action auteur Johnnie To, while Dibakar Banerjee takes Bollywood in a new direction with political thriller SHANGHAI. Intimate human dramas are represented with Bruno Barreto’s REACHING FOR THE MOON, about the love affair between American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares; Mania Akbari’s FROM TEHRAN TO LONDON, a poetic exploration of the roles of women, during the filming of which Akbari fled to the UK; and THE DEEP, Baltasar Kormákur’s breathtaking drama about an Icelandic fisherman who reluctantly became a national hero.

 

The World Perspectives strand presents 25 films from 18 countries, offering a spectrum of work from emerging directors. BIG BOY, from the Philippines, was shot on Super 8 by Shireen Seno; DAYS OF GRACEe is a breathless triple-kidnapping thriller from Mexican director Everardo Valerio Gout; DIE WELT, set after the 2011 Tunisian revolution, is the feature debut from Dutch director Alex Pitstra; from
Li Lou, EMPEROR VISITS THE HELL is a political satire inspired by a Ming Dynasty literary classic; and EVERYBODY’S GONE is an outstanding debut by Georgiy Paradjanov, nephew of legendary master director Sergei Paradzhanov.

 

With New Realities, EIFF features some of the most interesting documentary filmmakers working today, including Thomas Heise, who observes the routines of a crematorium in CONSEQUENCE; PJ Raval, who reveals the lives and loves of three gay seniors in BEFORE YOU KNOW IT; and first-time director Khaled Jarrar, who follows fellow Palestinians’ attempts to cross the wall separating them from Israel in INFILTRATORS. The enigmatic Scottish maker of salmon flies Megan Boyd is the subject of Eric Steel’s KISS THE WATER; and with LUNARCY! Simon Ennis takes an affectionate look at a group of individuals obsessed with the moon. The strand also hosts the World premiere of DESERT RUNNERS by Jennifer Steinman, an intimate film about competitors in RacingThePlanet’s 4Desert Ultra-marathons, and the European premiere of Jeanie Finlay’s THE GREAT HIP HOP HOAX, the stranger than fiction story of Billy Boyd and Gavin Bain, aka ‘Silibil ‘n’ Brains’.

 

Filmmakers and filmmaking is the subject of the Film on Film strand which includes: NATAN, David Cairns and Paul Duane’s moving account of Bernard Natan, a forgotten giant of French cinema; A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM by Mark Cousins; and Graham Eatough’s THE MAKING OF USr, commissioned by the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art.

 

The late-night Night Moves strand hosts the World premiere of OUTPOST 3: RISE OF THE SPETSNAZ, with producer Kieran Parker turning director for the third instalment of the popular Nazi zombie saga; and the European premiere of SHOOTING BIGFOOT, in which British filmmaker Morgan Matthews travels to America and forms uneasy alliances with several Bigfoot trackers. Concept artist Richard Raaphorst directs his first horror flick, FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY, a Nazi v Communist ‘found footage’ horror; while PARIS COUNTDOWN, a high-octane thriller, is director Edgar Marie’s debut feature; and the master of Japanese horror Hideo Nakata brings us THE COMPLEX.

 

EIFF will this year screen 172 short films from 38 countries across 22 programmes. In addition to animated shorts the Festival continues to showcase new work by Scottish, UK and international filmmakers, including DAY TRIP by Park Chan-wook and his brother, Park Chan-kyong.

 

The experimental Black Box strand presents a series of shorts programmes from innovators in the visual art world as well as the World premiere of documentary poem and travelogue ‘10’ from photographer filmmaker Telemach Wiesinger. The Festival enters new territory this year with BLACK BOX LIVE, a
presentation of multi-projector expanded cinema artworks performed live by experimental practitioners Nominoë, Sami van Ingen, and Screen Banditas.

 

The first of the retrospectives previously announced will celebrate the work of French director Jean Grémillon with a programme of features and short films in partnership with the BFI, while the second, presented as part of a wider programme running at Filmhouse, recognises the Hollywood director Richard Fleischer.

 

This year’s two country Focuses showcase work from Korea and Sweden not previously seen in the UK. The Focus on Korea includes films ranging from the commercial mainstream to independent cinema that show the diversity and vitality of Korean film today. The Focus on Sweden includes feature films from contemporary mainstream and experimental filmmakers, a film by an old master from the silent era, and a selection of shorts.

 

A new initiative this year has seen a group of 15-19-year-olds with a keen interest in film select films under the mentorship of the Festival. Entitled ‘Not Another Teen Movie’, their new strand includes include quarter-life crisis comedy OLD STOCK by Canadian director James Genn; 7 BOXES, a thrilling chase movie set in the markets of Paraguayan capital Asunción, from co-directors Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori; STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, starring Chris Colfer and Rebel Wilson; Danish coming-of-age drama YOU & ME FOREVER and a collection of short films.

 

As previously announced, the 67th Edinburgh International Film Festival opens with the European premiere of Drake Doremus’s BREATHE IN with Felicity Jones and Guy Pearce and the Closing Gala is the World premiere of the Scottish romantic comedy NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING, starring Karen Gillan and Stanley Weber. Disney•Pixar’s MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is this year’s Family Gala, screening at Festival Theatre Edinburgh in 3D.

EIFF Jury announced with The Host’s Bong Joon-Ho to head

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South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho will chair the International Feature Film Competition Jury at this year’s Festival.

 

Bong Joon-Ho, whose English-language debut, ‘Snowpiercer’ is expected later this year, came to international attention with his first feature ‘Barking Dogs Never Bite’ (2000). He won Best Director at the San Sebastian Film Festival for ‘Memories of Murder’ (2003). While ‘The Host’ (2006) and ‘Mother’ (2009) received much critical acclaim upon their premieres in the Director’s Fortnight and Un Certain Regard sections at Cannes.

 

Serving with him on the jury is actress Natalie Dormer and film critic Siobhan Synnot. Star of the hugely successful ‘Game of Thrones’, Dormer will be seen later this year in the highly anticipated ‘Rush’, directed by Ron Howard, and Ridley Scott’s ‘The Counselor’, written by Cormac McCarthy. Synnot is chief film writer for Scotland on Sunday and is an award-winning writer and broadcaster who regularly contributes to the BBC and STV, commenting on films and arts issues.

 

They will choose the winner of the Award for Best Film in the International Competition from a selection of films that highlight filmmaking from outside the UK that is imaginative, innovative and deserving of wider recognition. Last year’s winner was ‘Here, Then’ by first-time director Mao Mao.

 

This year’s Festival will also feature two country Focuses, showcasing work from Korea and Sweden. The Focuses will offer Festival audiences the opportunity to see UK premieres of the best recent work from those two countries.

 

EIFF Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara speaking in Cannes said: “It’s a huge honour for our Festival to have Bong Joon-ho, one of the greatest filmmakers, as the Chair of the jury of our International Feature Film Competition. We’re also honoured and delighted that he will be joined by Natalie Dormer, a brilliant and prolific performer, and Siobhan Synnot, one of Scotland’s leading voices for film culture.”

 

“Our Focuses on Korea and Sweden are major components of EIFF’s programme this year. These are undoubtedly two of the most consistently interesting national cinemas, both with a great abundance of filmmaking talent. We have an outstanding selection of stimulating and challenging films from both countries and we’re very happy to be showcasing them.”

 

The Focus on Korea includes films ranging from the commercial mainstream to independent cinema that show the diversity and vitality of Korean film today. The espionage thriller ‘The Berlin File’ from master director Ryoo Seung Wan has been a box-office hit. The domestic success of ‘Jiseul’, the debut from O Muel, is an equally good sign for arthouse films. The film, which recreates a massacre by Korean troops of alleged Communists in Jeju Island in 1948, is one of two films on historical tragedies; the other is ‘National Security’ by Chung Ji-young, which looks at the case of a pro-democracy activist in the 1980s who was tortured into making a false confession.

 

From director Shin Su-won, ‘Pluto’ is a dark and gripping story of how competition for top grades in an elite high school turns murderous. The imaginative hybrid of fiction and documentary ‘Virgin Forest’, which looks at themes of tradition, memory and the past, will be shown with two new shorts: ‘Homo Coreanicus’, an allegorical story about Korean society, and ‘Day Trip’, directed by Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Stoker) in collaboration with his brother, Park Chan-kyong, which deals with the Korean traditional music form pansori.

 

The Focus on Korea is supported by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korean Film Council and the Korean Cultural Centre UK.

 

The Focus on Sweden includes feature films from contemporary mainstream and experimental filmmakers, a film by an old master from the silent era, and a selection of shorts. Beginning with a phone call from a long-lost lover, the experimental documentary ‘Belleville Baby’ from Mia Engberg is a true story of love that raises questions about identity, class and fate. ‘Call Girl’ by Mikael Marcimain tells the explosive story of underage prostitution amongst the Swedish elite in the 1970’s; while ‘Roland Hassel’ is the debut feature from director Måns Månsson, an intriguing hybrid of fiction and documentary that breathes new life into the 1980’s cult private detective character of Roland Hassel. Emerging Swedish director Karzan Kader was born in Kurdish Iraq; his film ‘Up & Away’ is a charming story about familial love as two brothers try to travel from Kurdistan to America to meet Superman. In ‘Sanctuary’, two fugitives, a father and daughter, abandon civilisation and escape into the wilderness. Fredrik Edfeldt’s second feature expresses powerful emotional undercurrents raging beneath a reflective world of beautiful, almost ethereal stillness.

 

An enchanting rediscovery from the first golden age of Swedish cinema, Mauritz Stiller’s 1919 film ‘Sir Arne’s Treasure’ is an exquisite masterpiece, which will be shown with live musical accompaniment. Finally, a seven-strong selection of some of the finest short-form cinema emerging from contemporary Sweden, presents the undercurrents bubbling fervently just beneath the surface of society.