Posted about Edinburgh – on taxi cabs, bus stops and cinemas (the usual routes of urban escape) – are classic film titles: La Terra Trema, Wild Strawberries, Dr. Zhivago, Easy Rider, Taxi Driver, Annie Hall, Fitzcarraldo, Cinema Paradiso, Pulp Fiction and more, all past Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) premiers. Below the titles, the poster asks: “What will you discover?”
Discovery is the emphasis of the 64th annual Edinburgh International Film Festival, the operative word, and the marketing message indicates that perhaps it always has been. Kirsteen Jackson, Interim Chief Operating Adviser, remarks on the Festival’s central interest in maintaining its standing as the “world’s leading film festival of discovery,” and Hannah McGill, Artistic Director since 2006, writes in her welcome: “We’re particularly proud that of our 111 new feature films, 82 are the work of first- or second-time filmmakers. 22 of our films are World Premiers and 12 are International Premiers (playing for the first time outside their countries of origin).”
Among the promising new feature films by new filmmakers are Alamar (Pedro González-Rubio | Mexico), A Real Life (Sarah Leonor | France), Crab Trap (Oscar Ruiz | Colombia, France), La Pantera Negra (Iyari Wertta | Mexico), Red Hill (Patrick Hughes | Australia), and Vacation! (Zach Clark | USA). The large selection of short films (which are split into three groups: “Animation,” “Black Box” and “Shorts”) will also showcase new and rising talents.
When I last covered the Festival in 2008, The Edge of Love (John Maybury | UK), starring Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller, enjoyed a short-lived buzz as the Opening Night Gala Premier, but now sits sad-looking at the HMV shelves for a discounted £4. The opener of 2010, The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet | UK/France), although lacking in enchantresses, is a truly exciting premiere. The animated film comes from a script by Jacques Tati–adapted, directed, and with a fine original score by Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belville | 2003). There is the added excitement that it is primarily set in a beautifully realized Edinburgh, where M. Chomet now lives. The film is animated cinema at its purest, with very little dialog (much of which is incomprehensible anyway). A full review will follow shortly.
Toy Story 3 is to be shown in a Special 3D Gala Preview on 19 June, ahead of its full UK release on 23 July. The three screenings at Cineworld sold out within an hour of the box office opening on 3 June. There were many disappointed children.
Werner Herzog returns to the Festival in 2010 with the Gala UK Premier (23 June) of his latest feature, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? (which has David Lynch’s name attached to it as producer) and comes hot on the heels of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans (2009). The film was made on a $2 million budget in part as an experiment in sustainability, challenging the now all-to-common expenditures of $100 million+. Herzog’s Antarctic documentary, Encounters at the End of the World – which was screened unfinished in 2007 at Images Cinema in Williamstown, with its maker in attendance one year ahead of his scheduled invitation to lecture at Williams College – was also one of the gems of the 2008 EIFF.
Mention should also be made to Get Low (Aaron Schneider | USA), My Words, My Lies – My Love (Alain Gsponer | Germany), Whisky with Vodka (Andreas Dresen | Germany) and World’s Greatest Dad (Bobcat Goldthwait|USA) as likely Festival favorites.
There are many compelling documentaries set to premier. The People vs George Lucas (Alandre O Phillippe | UK, USA) studies the Star Wars obsessed and their reaction to the prequels. Two in the Wave (Emmanuel Laurent | France) considers the relationship (the friendship and falling out) between François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.
And amidst all these new movies are some old ones. This year’s retrospective, “After the Wave,” instead following a single film career, offers a selection of 16 post British New Wave films. Particularly interesting is Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger’s The Boy Who Turned Yellow (1972), their last collaboration. The retrospective is sponsored by Sight & Sound magazine. Special screenings, separate from the retrospective, include Went the Day Well? (1941) and They Made Me a Fugitive (1947), both directed by Alberto Cavalcanti and the latter starring Trevor Howard, as well as Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson | 1970) which has been recently remastered. In homage to EIFF patron Sir Sean Connery, there will also be a screening of The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston | 1975) which stars Connery and Michael Caine. The freshly restored 35mm print will be shown at the Festival Theatre, a venue usually dedicated to musicals and ballets, in order to display it on the biggest possible screen. Park Circus will be distributing the film for re-release.
Set against a backdrop of economic instability, technological change, and certain degree of uncertainty as to the future of the Seventh Art, the 64th Edinburgh International Festival will be addressing these and other key issues in public and industry discussions.
The full EIFF 2010 brochure can be accessed online by pressing here.