The programme for the 66th Edinburgh Film Festival launched earlier this week, and it seems to promise a return to form for the festival.
Essentially Chris Fujiwara, the festival’s Artistic Director has reinstated everything the festival decided to drop in 2011. So welcomed back are the Michael Powell Awards for Best British Feature; Cineworld as a venue; A Closing Gala Film (Brave); Best of the Fest screenings at the end of the festival for £6 a pop; Ticket Deals; and a return to 100+ feature films (compared to 63 in 2011).
All in all, it feels like EIFF is pulling out Men In Black’s neuralyzer and attempting to make us forget 2011 ever happened. Something I think most regulars at EIFF are all too happy to go along with.
The programme itself is also typical of what we came to expect from Hannah Mcgill’s reign as festival director (2007 – 2010). A pleasingly international mix of documentaries, shorts and feature length films to get your teeth into. A few stars pepper the festival’s films, including Clive Owen (Shadow Dancer); Robert Carlysle (California Solo); and Mark Cousins in his latest feature since the excellent The Story of Film, What is this Film Called Love?. The trailer for which you can see below:
Nevertheless, EIFF like every great film festival is about taking risks on directors and actors you have never heard of. However, the problem is always deciding between so many new directors, and even entire countries, from which you may never have seen a single feature. Thankfully Fujiwara has a simple yet brilliant solution.
You see, in addition to each of the normal Strands, including Black Box (experimental films), Philippine New Wave, and Films on Film (Films about filmmakers and filmmaking); there’s also Pathways, a way of dividing the programme into genres and themes.
Like the sound of American black comedy God Bless America? Why not check out the equally strange Rent-a-Cat from Japan, both in the Played for Laughs Pathway?
If Teenage Kicks coming-of-age stories are more your thing, you could go with Taiwan’s lo-fo sci-fi Young Dudes, followed by the Typhoon Club, as part of the Shinji Somai retrospective.
All in all it feels like the festival is back on track and almost certain to be a success. For one thing, smaller film festivals like this matter too much to the residents of their cities for them to fail.
I hope I speak for other cinephiles in Edinburgh when I say the joy of a festival like this is not so much watching great films (which we have the chance to do at the Cameo and Filmhouse all year round); but the opportunity to spend time with people just as passionate about films as we are; whether they are making the films, writing about them, or chatting in bars and pubs afterwards.
Everything that’s great about being a film fan comes together at a film festival. I look forward to seeing you there!
As normal, tickets are available from the official website. They sell at £9/£7.50 each, but you do get 10% off if you buy 8-12, and 20% off if you buy 13+ so it’s worth booking together with friends to take advantage of these discounts.