City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Film Festival 2014 Preview


By Dylan Matthew - Posted on 02 June 2014

Welcome to New York film still

It was with a mixture of delight and relief to see the familiarly bespectacled and besuited Chris Fujiwara step up to the podium in Filmhouse last week to announce the programme for this years’ Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF). Of its impressive 68 year run, he’s been at the helm of this celluloid marathon for the last three years. Thankfully Fujiwara’s helped to steer the beloved EIFF vessel back into safe and respectable waters since a brief unfortunate downturn threatened to scuttle it the year before his arrival.

So it also seemed appropriate that he declared one of the main themes running through this year’s event was that of renewal and transformation as the festival continues to resurrect itself, phoenix like, back onto the global stage where it belongs.

A confident presentation delivered this year’s programme rounded off with a mouth-watering montage of visually arresting clips.

So from June 18th over a 10-day stretch, the festival will deliver over 125 feature length films including world premieres, workshops, Q&A’s, shorts, animation, retrospectives and documentaries. Much of the work is eligible for a raft of awards including Best International Feature, Best Performance in a British Film and the increasingly prestigious Michael Powell award for Best British Feature.

Broadly speaking, four distinct sections stand out. The first - Teen Spirit is new work about youth, the films themselves programmed by a specially created festival youth team. There’s also a focus on new German cinema as well as a retrospective on the work of German director Dominik Graf whose career is better known in his native country.

Shifting further East there’s also a section devoted to Iranian cinema screening work from new directors as well as lost classics from before the Islamic Revolution. And closer to home an extensive retrospective on the theatre, TV and film work of Scottish writer and director John McGrath will unspool including his most celebrated work The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil.

Personally I’ve got my eye on a number of hot tickets. One is the UK premiere of Abel Ferrara’s controversial Welcome to New York starring Gerard Depardieu (pictured above).

A late addition hot from its Cannes debut, its inspired by the life of Dominique Strauss Kahn - the former head of the International Monetary Fund whose career was ended by an alleged sexual assault. It sounds like a French version of The Wolf of Wall Street and if that wasn’t tempting enough, Kahn is suing the film-makers for defamation, throwing more fuel onto the fire and making this a must see.

I also like the look of Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man. A modern day interpretation of John Le Carre, it features one of the final screen performances of the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Something of a very different but potentially fascinating nature is the UK premiere of Amos Gitai’s film Ana Arabia, a French-Israeli co-production about the possibilities for peace in the Middle East and notable for the fact its shot in one single continuous 85 minute take.

But if that’s not mainstream enough for you, Frodo Baggins himself will visit Edinburgh for a public Q&A session about his career. Better known as Elijah Wood, the Lord of the Rings star is in town to promote the World Premiere of Set Fire to the Stars, a semi-biographical account of the life of Dylan Thomas.

There are simply too many hotly anticipated cinematic temptations to list but I’ll make a final mention of what looks like a guilty pleasure – the UK premiere of South Korean dystopian sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer starring our own Tilda Swinton and Ewen Bremner alongside Captain America himself Chris Evans.

The Edinburgh Film Festival's 68th year promises something for everyone so to find out what cinematic treasure is up your street click on the following link or pick up a programme at Filmhouse on Lothian Road.

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