Top Five Films of Edinburgh International Film Festival


So Edinburgh International Film Festival is over another year. The festival has become a time of exhilaration and frustration for me. Exhilaration, in that I get to see lots of amazing independent films; and frustration in that one of the few downsides of having a full-time job as teacher is that I cannot take time off to see all the films I would like to.

However, I did manage to catch fourteen, which felt like a lot. (You can check out reviews for each of them here). I’m not sure how the professionals manage 30-40 films per festival, but hats off to them. My overriding sense this year, was that while I did catch a lot of really enjoyable films, there was no one film I felt the need to rave on about, and demanded to be seen by everyone. That lack of a stand-out film can also arguably be reflected in Festival Director, Chris Fujiwara’s plea for more funding at the close of this year’s proceedings. Here’s hoping the people upstairs are listening.

If there was one winner at this year’s festival, it was documentaries, Leviathan, A World Not Ours, and Fire in the Night were all winners at the re-instated Award Ceremony. My favourite film from this year’s festival also happened to be from this genre. Which brings us nicely onto:

The Top Five Films of EIFF 2013

5. Sanctuary

A beautifully shot, wonderfully subtle look at the relationship between father and his daughter that had me enchanted through out.

4. C.O.G.

A funny, although often dark portrait of a young man trying to figure out who he is, and how he fits into the world. Faith, sexuality and class collide as he attempts to fit into a town with a completely different lifestyle and values to his own.

3. This is Martin Bonner

A coming-of-age film about two middle-aged men. Martin and Travis are both at a crossroads, one having been released from a marriage, the other from prison. A quiet, thoughtful piece about the everyday challenges life can suddenly bring.

2. The Infiltrators

The main character in The Infiltrators is a Wall, the barrier that prevents Palestinians from entering the Israeli side of the West Bank. Despite the fact they will almost certainly get caught, we see scores of people jumping over this wall in the hope of getting a better life. A moving film about the cost of conflict for ordinary working folk.

1. A Play for Freedom

Does art make any difference? This is the question the four main characters in this documentary must face as they are forced to censor their film to get the government approval they need to perform it. A both hopeful and melancholy piece about the importance of art in a state which wishes to control it.


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