There are now just a few short weeks before Scotland's finest film event, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, opens with the UK Premiere of Francis Lee's Yorkshire-set drama, God's Own Country. Running from June 21st until July 2nd the festival will feature a total of 151 features from 46 countries and include multiple special events.
As always the fantastic lineup is packed with premieres from around the globe. Highlights include a look at Bong Joon Ho's Okja after its controversial Cannes premiere, an exploration into the best of new British cinema and the always exceptional retrospective programme.
Here are the details on the various strands and the film highlights to look forward to:
This year’s BEST OF BRITISH strand includes exclusive world premieres of Bryn Higgins’ Access All Areas, featuring Jordan Stephens - one half of hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks – on a group road trip to the Isle of Wight’s Bestival music Festival; Simon Hunter’s Edie, starring a never-better Sheila Hancock as an elderly woman who aims to climb a Scottish mountain; the Donmar Warehouse’s critically acclaimed all-female adaptation of Julius Caesar; and Danny Huston’s The Last Photograph. Audiences can also look forward to modern silent film London Symphony; filmmaker Justin Edgar’s noir British thriller The Marker; Daniel Jerome Gill’s look at the perils of modern-day relationships in Modern Life Is Rubbish; Sarmad Masud’s My Pure Land, about a mother and daughter’s fight to protect their home; searing abuse drama Romans, starring Orlando Bloom; and moving family drama That Good Night, starring Charles Dance and the late, great John Hurt.
Other films in this strand include Chris Baugh’s whodunit Bad Day for the Cut; Peter Mackie Burns’ drama Daphne; Rebekah Fortune’s emotional family drama Just Charlie; the Toby Jones-starring psychological thriller Kaleidoscope; taut mother-daughter drama Let Me Go; the emotionally raw The Pugilist; Taiwanese drama The Receptionist; and This Beautiful Fantastic, starring Tom Wilkinson and Jessica Brown Findlay.
The prestigious Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film and Best Performance in a British Feature Film Award will be selected from this strand and includes 8 World Premieres, 3 UK Premieres and 1 European Premiere.
Making her directorial debut at this year’s Festival will be critically acclaimed actress Kyra Sedgwick for Story of a Girl. Joining her for a Q&A after the screening will be the film’s star Kevin Bacon. They will also take part in one of the Festival’s In-Person events as well as a special screening of The Woodsman in which they both star. Also taking part in In-Person events will be award-winning composer David Arnold (Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Independence Day); acclaimed film, television and stage actor Bernard Hill (Lord of the Rings, Titanic); director Lizzie Borden (Born in Flames); actor, screenwriter and director Richard. E. Grant (Jackie, Withnail & I) and Academy Award-nominated actor Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones, The Hunger Games), whose labour-of-love film Final Portrait (Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer) will receive its UK Premiere at the Festival.
AMERICAN DREAMS will show the very best in new American independent cinema by shining a spotlight on the boundless creativity originating from across the Atlantic. This year, audiences can enjoy a host of fresh features including: vibrant coming-of-age comedy-drama Freak Show, directed by Trudie Styler; 1930s-set and James Franco-directed In Dubious Battle; The Last Word, featuring acting legend Shirley MacLaine; Middle Age nun comedy The Little Hours; Chris O’Dowd and Andie MacDowell family drama Love After Love; Santa Cruz set drama Maya Dardel; tender father-son drama performed mainly in Yiddish Menashe; psychedelic dark comedy My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea; European romance Paris Can Wait, starring Alec Baldwin and Diane Lane; auteur director Terrence Malick’s music-focused Song to Song, featuring an all-star cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman; and previously mentioned Story of a Girl. Meanwhile, Holly Hunter also returns in revenge drama Strange Weather; Jon Bernthal and Imogen Poots come together in Alaskan noir Sweet Virginia; Bryan Cranston leads as the idiosyncratic protagonist of Wakefield and Kiefer Sutherland and Michelle Pfeiffer hope to escape loneliness in Where is Kyra?.
This year’s EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVES strand will feature a number of much anticipated continental films making their UK debuts. Notable features include: WWII drama 1945, Russian sci-fi Attraction; music biopic Dalida; revenge drama Darkland; Nazi-euthanasia drama Fog in August and darkly humorous corruption drama Glory. There is also visceral Irish Medieval thriller Pilgrimage; French cop comedy R.A.I.D Special Unit; drama Sami Blood; stylish Spanish drama Sister of Mine; LGBT art biopic Tom of Finland; Edinburgh-set romantic comedy Waterboys; teenage cultural drama A Wedding; intergenerational family-focused drama Zer; German road trip Goodbye Berlin; culture clash Irish comedy Halal Daddy; true-life thriller Hostages; highly-relevant Syria-set Insyriated; Norwegian WWII drama The King’s Choice; the Catherine Deneuve–starring The Midwife; and taut Icelandic thriller The Oath.
Delving further afield, the WORLD PERSPECTIVES strand is set to deliver a global array of works from emerging and established filmmaking talents. Highlights include the Scottish premiere of Bong Joon Ho’s latest offering Okja, starring EIFF honorary patron Tilda Swinton, along with the UK premieres of musical comedy EMO the Musical; the darkly funny drug road movie Godspeed; mesmeric Indian road movie Sexy Durga; and the thoughtful and hopeful White Sun. Meanwhile I Dream in Another Language is a moving study of language, heritage and hidden pasts; Rage links three unrelated stories with one unsolved murder; and Snow Woman sees an ancient Japanese ghost story beautifully re-told. Audiences can also look forward to In This Corner of the World, Maudie, Newton and A Quiet Heart.
This year’s EIFF features a strong and diverse selection of new DOCUMENTARIES which celebrate filmmaking and vary from the harrowing and provocative, through to fun and downright entertaining. The World Premiere of Teenage Superstars will screen at EIFF this year, taking audiences on a thrilling tour of the pre-Britpop, Scottish music scene and following on from the EIFF Audience Award Winner 2015, Big Gold Dream.
Additional titles include: the enthralling Becoming Cary Grant – a must for fans of classic Hollywood; Delicate Balance, a story about the present that looks to the future; Amazona, which explores the boundaries between responsibility and freedom; the spiritual Brother Jakob; The Challenge – a look at the extravagant pastimes of the fabulously wealthy during one sporting desert weekend; the Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen and Jorge de Sen inspired Correspondences; Frankie Fenton’s inspirational It’s Not Yet Dark; the latest from The Scottish Documentary Institute, Chico Pereira’s Donkeyote; Emer Reynolds’ mesmerising The Farthest; Leaning Into The Wind the sequel to documentary hit River and Tides; the shocking story of the founding members of the Syrian Civil Defence in Last Men in Aleppo; the delightful, amusing, and thoroughly absorbing Pecking Order; Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World, which explores the role of native Americans in popular music history; Tokyo Idols – an eye-opening dive into the uniquely Japanese phenomenon of ‘idols’; and Sérgio Tréfaut’s Treblinka based on the memoirs by Chil Rajchman.
Also screening in this strand are the International Premieres of rock-doc On The Sly: In Search of the Family Stone, first person essay When We Were Wild and Tommie Dell Smith’s The Groove Is Not Trivial. Audiences will also be invited to join a public conversation to reflect on the rise of fake news with DocSalon: Documentary in the Age of Fake News, co-presented by St Andrews University.
As the sun sets, audiences will be able to journey into the dark and downright strange world of cinema in the Festival’s strand of late-night premieres. NIGHT MOVES will offer a diverse range of scream-inducing films, with after-dark screenings including the World Premiere of the Danny Morgan-starrer Double Date; and the psychological horror-thriller The Dark Mile. Bad Kids of Crestview Academy, the bloody and brassy high school horror-action romp will also have its International Premiere. Additional showings include; Russian superhero flick Guardians; Damien Power’s Killing Ground; the brilliantly bonkers cult Japanese romp The Mole Song – Hong Kong Capriccio; the action-packed crime thriller Operation Mekong; and the hilariously frightening Vampire Cleanup Department.
Audiences can look forward to an eclectic variety of contemporary animated styles as part of the Festival’s dedicated ANIMATION strand. The McLaren Award for Best New British Animation will return once again with two varied programmes showcasing some of the most highly-anticipated new short animations from the UK including Jack Newman’s Escape From Syria – Faiza’s Story, Will Anderson’s Have Heart and Daisy Jacob’s The Full Story; in addition to a roster of compelling international animations including Dead Horses and I Am Here.
Attendees will be able to attend a raft of SPECIAL EVENTS throughout the Festival. An 80th anniversary screening of Atmosphere | Edge of the World, Michael Powell’s first major feature, will be presented in Edinburgh University's remarkable FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility wave tank. During the event, the tank will mimic the cinematic seascapes depicted in this tale of the evacuation of a remote island community off the Scottish coast. Presented by New Media Scotland, this event is part of the British Film Institute’s Coastal season.is in partnership with the BFI Film Audience Network and Film Hub Scotland and part of the latest online collection from the BFI’s Britain on Film project: Coast and Sea.
Audiences can look forward to Q&A screenings with Academy Award-winning screenwriter Oliver Stone, who will present a special 30th anniversary screening of Wall Street, and renowned author Ian Rankin who will present captivating crime drama Reichenbach Falls.
A sold-out screening of Steven Spielberg’s legendary Raiders of the Lost Ark will take place at Usher Hall, accompanied by John Williams’ iconic score performed live by the RSNO. Entertaining and insightful discussions and presentations taking place during the two week event include an entertaining discussion with established comedy writers and neuroscience researchers on the science behind laughter:(What is Comedy For?); Michael Poetschko (Talbot Rice Gallery Presents: Michael Poetschko – ‘Our Refrain’), which will screen alongside the artist’s exhibition at Talbot Rice Gallery; Will Pickvance (Festival Theatre Presents: A Night at the Cinema in 1914) and Brian Baglow’s free lecture (Gamepocalypse Now). There will also be the opportunity to attend a number of free lectures around the themes of THE FUTURE IS HISTORY retrospective presented by leading academics from Edinburgh and Stirling Universities. Younger audiences can get involved with the EIFF Youth Hub Filmmaking Competition, with winning entries screened at Filmhouse, and Edinburgh and Lothians Schools Film Competition.
This year’s EIFF SHORTS strand will deliver a stunning, selection of shorts from the UK and overseas including An Image Is a Territory; Film Is Memory; New Voices; The Young and the Wild; Trick of the Light; UK - Fireworks; UK – Spectrum; and Waking Dream. A special programme of student shorts curated by the MSc Film, Exhibition and Curation course at the University of Edinburgh entitled (Be)longing will also feature, along with a collection of shorts commissioned through the Scottish Film Talent Network’s new talent programme, From Scotland. The annual edition of the Scottish Documentary Institute’s Bridging the Gap collection will also return, this year focusing on the theme of Rebellion, with six intimate, topical and thought-provoking shorts including Yulia Kovanova’s Plastic Man, Thomas Hogben’s Teeth and Sean Mullan’s Inhale.
The country focus for the Festival’s special 70th Anniversary year will be Poland. FOCUS ON POLAND will present a snapshot of one of the most vibrant cinematic landscapes in the world. The programme comprises eight new feature fiction titles, one documentary, as well as short films. The strand also boasts an International Premiere of Katarzyna Adamik’s thriller Amok. Additional notable films will include: Andrzej Wajda’s final feature Afterimage; psychological horror Animals; coming-of-age fantasy The Erlprince; Łukasz Ronduda’s A Heart of Love; the colourful Satan Said Dance; the extraordinary The Sun, The Sun Blinded Me; You Have No Idea How Much I Love You – the film that questions what love really means; and the gut-wrenching Volhynia. The strand will also showcase Polish Shorts: Perspectives; Polish Shorts: 15 Years of Wajda School; and a free lecture by Rohan Crickmar on post-war Polish cinema - Diamonds Out of the Ashes: A Brief Survey of Polish Cinema 1946 to Present.
The world of experimental film is once again uncovered in the Festival’s ever-popular BLACK BOX strand. A selection of short and feature-length films will screen, including the UK Premieres of George Clark’s poetic documentary A Distant Echo and Steve Sanguedolce’s bold, experimental documentary Land of Not Knowing. BLACK BOX SHORTS will also return with four strands of the finest, brand-new short films from across the globe, featuring recent films by BLACK BOX favourites such as Esther Urlus, Robert Todd, Siegfried Fruhauf, Billy Roisz, and Baba Hillman.
The previously announced Retrospective Programme, THE FUTURE IS HISTORY, will explore identity in three parts – GREAT BRITAIN, THE WESTERN WORLD OF THE FUTURE and SCOTLAND. Highlights include Electric Contact: The Visionary World’s of Tom McGrath – a cross-arts journey into the worlds of visionary Scottish playwright, poet and jazz musician Tom McGrath; a selection of titles from ex-Beatle George Harrison’s HandMade Films; the rarely screened, ground-breaking visual accompaniment to THE THE’s seminal 1986 album of the same name, THE THE: Infected – The Movie, screening alongside the UK Premiere of Johanna St Michaels’ documentary about Matt Johnson, The Inertia Variations; and live stage readings of McGrath’s ground-breaking plays from the era, The Hard Man (starring Kate Dickie in the central role as the archetypal Scottish hardman) and The Android Circuit (1978), both directed by actor Tam Dean Burn. In addition, writer-director Gerard Johnson will present his two features Tony and Hyena as well as a live stage reading of This Story of Yours, the fascinating play by the late John Hopkins.
In a nod to the Festival’s 70th Anniversary Year, the programme will feature a specially curated selection of films, events and exhibitions including special onstage event Behind the Curtain: 70 Years of EIFF; and screenings of Hitchcock on Grierson and Drifters; Hooray for Holyrood; as well as Mirrorball: Documentaries. Visitors to the Festival will also have the opportunity to view the ed film fest memories Exhibition, celebrating Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, from 31 May to 2 July, which features a selection of rarely seen images from the Festival’s archives, at Festival Square, St Andrew Square and the Old College Quad.
The UK Premiere of Cars 3 will open FILM FEST JUNIOR, followed by age-appropriate UK Premieres including Little Bird’s Big Adventure and Red Dog: True Blue and the World Premiere of We Can Be Heroes. The Festival’s popular Youth Hub programme will also return with a range of masterclasses offering careers advice for filmmakers aged 15-25 years old, along-with events and screenings for schools.
The Festival’s previously announced inaugural immersive cinema experience, EIFF: Play (15 – 29 June) and pop-up outdoor cinema Film Fest in the City (16 – 18 June) will kick off the festivities early, with the 71st Edinburgh International Film Festival running from 21 June – 2 July, 2017.