film reviews | movies | features | BRWC EIFF UNVEILS 2015 PROGRAMME

New Artistic Director Mark Adams announced this morning at Filmhouse in Edinburgh details of the programme for the 69th edition of Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF). This year the Festival, which runs from 17 to 28 June, will showcase 164 features from 36 countries, including 24 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, 16 European Premieres, 84 UK Premieres and 2 Scottish Premieres.

The Festival boasts 134 new features, with highlights including the UK premiere of Asif Kapadia’s striking documentary AMY, about the life of music legend Amy Winehouse; the latest Disney-Pixar animated sensation INSIDE OUT, screening as the Festival’s Family Gala; Arnold Schwarzenegger as a tormented father tending his zombie daughter in MAGGIE; Andrew Mogel & Jarrad Paul’s THE D-TRAIN, starring Jack Black and James Marsden; while John Cusack and Paul Dano play different aged versions of Beach Boys legend Brian Walker in masterful music film LOVE & MERCY. Classic Screenings will include a rare outing for Noel Marshall’s ROAR, a legendary bizarre cult 1981 big cat movie.

This year’s EIFF will also be presenting a series of In-Person events, which will see illustrious names from the world of film interviewed live on stage at the Festival, including local hero Ewan McGregor, who will attend with his new film LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT; Jane Seymour and Malcolm McDowell, both in Edinburgh for their starring roles in BEREAVE; cult Hong-Kong director Johnnie To, with his accompanying feature EXILED (supported by Create Hong Kong and Hong Kong Film Development Fund; and Brand Hong Kong and Hong Kong Economic Trade Office), and EIFF Honorary Patron Seamus McGarvey who returns with his cinematography ‘In Conversation’ series with two-time Academy Award® winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler.

A special In-Person talk celebrates the 60th birthday of one of Britain’s eminent animators, Barry Purves, and multi-talented musician, writer and comedian, Neil Innes will present A Half of Innes, a live In-conversation event with musical accompaniment.

Mark Adams, EIFF Artistic Director, said:  “We are delighted to be presenting such a thrilling, fun, challenging, provocative, exciting and balanced programme. There really is something for everyone and we hope that filmgoers will get a lot of pleasure out of this year’s festival.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, said: “The Edinburgh International Film Festival has produced another excellent programme in 2015, showcasing Scottish talent alongside some of the best of world cinema. The film festival attracts visitors to Edinburgh and Scotland, as well as giving local residents the opportunity to see wonderfully diverse and creative films on their doorstep. It also invests in the future of filmmaking though the important delegate programme as well as the Festival Short Film Challenge, and Talent and Animation Labs. By nurturing talent within the industry the EIFF has an important role to play in developing skills to support the future of Scottish filmmaking. The Scottish Government is pleased to support the EIFF with Expo funding of £115,000 in 2015.”

British films in competition for the Michael Powell Award (for Best British Feature Film and Best Performance in a British Feature Film) include 10 World Premieres and 3 UK Premieres. Among the contenders are Andrew Haigh’s beautiful portrait of a fractured relationship, 45 YEARS, with award-winning performances from Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay; relationship comedy BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS from Jamie Adams which was shot in just five days on the Black Mountains of Wales; Joseph Bull and Luke Seomore’s BLOOD CELLS about a farmer’s son and his nomadic lifestyle which he is forced to leave behind; the World Premiere of clever and complex sci-fi thriller BRAND NEW-U from acclaimed documentary-maker Simon Pummell; Jake Gavin’s HECTOR starring Peter Mullan as an affable homeless man; Martin Radich’s NORFOLK, a haunting and atmospheric film starring Denis Ménochet; Steven Nesbit’s Romeo and Juliet style drama NORTH v SOUTH   starring Greta Scacchi, Steven Berkoff and Bernard Hill;  BAFTA-Scotland award-winner Colin Kennedy’s directorial debut feature SWUNG;  Jane Linfoot’s powerful psychological drama THE INCIDENT, which also receives its World Premiere, starring Ruta Gedmintas and Tom Hughes as a young couple whose comfortable life is disrupted when a troubled teenage girls enters their life and Ludwig and Paul Shammasian’s THE PYRAMID TEXTS starring James Cosmo, plus author Helen Walsh’s debut as writer/director, THE VIOLATORS, which follows two young girls from radically different backgrounds who meet and set off on a course which has profound implications. THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON, EIFF Honorary Patron Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut and the Festival’s Opening Gala, and IONA, Scott Graham’s striking family drama and the Closing Night Gala are also in contention for the Michael Powell Award.

The International Feature Film Competition highlights filmmaking from around the world that is imaginative, innovative and deserving of wider recognition. This selection includes World Premiere LEN AND COMPANY from Tim Godsall; Rick Famuyiwa’s coming of age tale for the post hip-hop generation DOPE; Oliver Hirschbiegel’s tense World War II drama 13 MINUTES; I STAY WITH YOU by Artemio Narro, provocatively addressing the notions of power and control; and Niki Karimi’s enthralling drama NIGHT SHIFT. The UK Premiere of Marielle Heller’s THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL stars rising star Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård;Doze Niu Chen-Zer’s PARADISE IN SERVICE, a non-judgemental portrait of life in a military-run Taiwanese brothel; YOU’RE UGLY TOO, from Irish director Mark Noonan; Ole Giæver and Marte Vold’s OUT OF NATURE, set in the great Norwegian outdoors; 600 MILES, a moody crime thriller from Mexican director Gabriel Ripstein starring Tim Roth; THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT from former EIFF Award Winner Kyle Patrick Alvarez, examining a psychology professor’s experiment gone wrong, and MANSON FAMILY VACATION, a boldly original look at family relationships from J Davis, round out the International Feature Film Competition.

This year’s Festival hosts the Award for Best Documentary Feature Film, as well as introducing ‘Doc of the Day’, with each featured film supported by an associated event. Documentaries from around the globe include PROPHET’S PREY from Oscar-nominated director Amy Berg, looking at the megalomaniacal leader of a fundamentalist church; Tiller Russell’s gripping PRECINCT SEVEN FIVE examining police corruption out of control; Marah Strauch’s vertiginous tribute to founding father of BASE jumping Carl Boenish SUNSHINE SUPERMAN; Ross Sutherland’s STAND BY FOR TAPE BACK-UP, based on his live Edinburgh Fringe show in 2014;and the World Premiere of WHEN ELEPHANTS FIGHT, an eye-opening spotlight on Britain’s ties to the illicit trade in Congolese conflict minerals, directed by Michael Ramsdell. Included in the line-up are Crystal Moselle’s Sundance sensation THE WOLFPACK, documenting an extraordinary family of film lovers who rarely leave their Manhattan home; ABOVE AND BELOW, a dazzling portrait of existence lived on the fringes of American society, directed by Nicolas Steiner; Ilinca Calugareanu’s CHUCK NORRIS vs COMMUNISM, which charts an opportunistic hustler creating a videotheque resistance in the face of 1980s Romanian communism; Damon Gameau’s devastating look at our everyday inadvertent sugar intake in THAT SUGAR FILM; and DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON by Douglas Tirola. Rounding out the Documentaries, including those announced previously, are David Nicholas Wilkinson’s enthralling journey into the origins of cinema THE FIRST FILM; a delve into the delights of sherry in José Luis López-Linares’ SHERRY & THE MYSTERY OF PALO CORTADO; Paul Goodwin’s entertaining look at the British sci-fi comic institution FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD; a love song to the rip-off Turkish pop cinema of the 60’s and 70’s REMAKE, REMIX, RIP-OFF directed by Cem Kaya; an insight into the Bedouin traditions of camel pageants and auctions, with one woman breaking taboos in NEARBY SKY by Nujoom Alghanem; THE IRON MINISTRY’s engrossing portrait of China’s railways by JP Sniadecki; Kevin Pollack’s ode what makes comedians tick in MISERY LOVES COMEDY, and the topical and enthralling THE NEWSROOM – OFF THE RECORD directed by Mikala Krogh. Also screening in the Documentary strand are Asif Kapadia’s critically acclaimed AMY and Grant McPhee’s BIG GOLD DREAM: SCOTTISH POST-PUNK AND INFILTRATING THE MAINSTREAM.

EIFF will also host the World Premiere of the English-language version of UNDER MILK WOOD from Kevin Allen, a beautiful film adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ iconic classic starring Rhys Ifans and Charlotte Church and a contender for EIFF’s Audience Award. Other Audience Award nominees include Jon Watts’ thrilling COP CAR starring Kevin Bacon who plays a sheriff with plenty to hide and Patrick Brice’s smart and funny sex comedy THE OVERNIGHT starring Jason Schwartzman and Taylor Schilling; DESERT DANCER starring Reece Ritchie and Freida Pinto in the truly inspirational story of choreographer Afshin Ghaffarian; the World Premiere of actress Talulah Riley’s debut as writer/director, SCOTTISH MUSSEL; David Blair’s supernatural thriller THE MESSENGER and Isabel Coixet’s LEARNING TO DRIVE starring Patricia Clarkson and Sir Ben Kingsley. Also nominated for The Audience Award are THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, AMY, BIG GOLD DREAM: SCOTTISH POST-PUNK AND INFILTRATING THE MAINSTREAM, YOU’RE UGLY TOO and THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT.

The American Dreams strand looks at the very best new works from American independent cinema and showcases an exciting and varied group of films.  Highlights include Gina Prince-Bythewood’s enthralling musical melodrama BEYOND THE LIGHTS starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Minnie Driver and Danny Glover and the UK Premiere of FRANNY starring Dakota Fanning, Theo James and featuring a powerhouse performance from Richard Gere as a billionaire philanthropist.

European Premieres include WELCOME TO ME starring Kristen Wiig who delivers a hilarious and outstanding performance as Alice Klieg, a woman with borderline personality disorder, and Jamie Babbit’s dark comedy about the life of a sex addict in FRESNO. Additional films include Alex Holdridge and Linnea Saasen’s comedy-romance MEET ME IN MONTENEGRO in which they also star alongside Rupert Friend; road trip drama THE ROAD WITHIN starring Robert Sheehan, Dev Patel and Zoe Kravitz and Leslye Headland’s hilarious SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE with Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie and Adam Scott, all of which receive their UK Premieres at the Festival.

A selection of new works from some of the world’s finest and established directors, Directors’ Showcase includes David Gordon Green’s tale of loneliness and longing, MANGLEHORN, with Al Pacino and Holly Hunter; Amy Berg’s gritty crime story EVERY SECRET THING starring Diane Lane and Elizabeth Banks; Peter Bogdanovich’s old fashioned sex comedy SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY, plus Masaharu Take’s award-winning story of a young Japanese woman who morphs in to a boxer in 100 YEN LOVE and Nobuhiro Yamashita’s quirky offbeat romantic comedy LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM.

Night Moves, a journey into the dark, thrilling and chilling side of cinema is guaranteed to delight horror fans with a selection of edge-of-your-seat cinematic gems. Feature films include multi-award winning director Bruce McDonald’s horrifying tale of evil trick-or-treaters, HELLIONS; Corin Hardy’s brilliantly terrifying debut feature THE HALLOW which screens in partnership with Scotland’s award-winning Horror festival, Dead by Dawn; Hungarian director Károly Ujj Meszáros’ fantasy film LIZA, THE FOX-FAIRY, and the World Premiere of British director Justin Trefgarne’s NARCOPOLIS starring Elliot Cowan as a troubled cop.  All late night screenings will take place at EIFF HQ in Filmhouse where audiences can mingle with Festival guests, and enjoy late night food, and specially themed events until 3am every evening of the Festival.

The Young and The Wild strand is brought to the Festival by EIFF’s intrepid Young Programmers, aged 15-19, who have selected the finest international shorts and features exploring the lives and issues of young people from around the world. Films include THE SISTERHOOD OF NIGHT, a compelling twist on teen fantasy as one girl’s lie leads to a small American town becoming the scene of a modern-day Salem Witch Trial, and inspiring documentary PIRATES OF SALÉ which follows four young performers in Morocco as they join the country’s first professional circus, plus a selection of Shorts. The FilmFest Junior strand is chosen for young audiences and includes exciting family film PAPER PLANES about a boy who wants to enter the world of junior paper planes championship and LABYRINTHUS, one for the gaming enthusiasts, which tells the story of a boy’s friends who are trapped inside a computer game.

The New Perspectives strand offers exciting and challenging new works from talented and emerging filmmakers, including the International Premieres of INDEX ZERO by Italian filmmaker Lorenzo Sportiello, about a couple struggling to stay together in a futuristic Europe, and Emily Ting’s IT’S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG, a Before Sunset-style romance set on the streets of Hong Kong. UK Premieres include touching and atmospheric romance SAND DOLLARS by Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas; MELBOURNE, a gripping domestic drama set within a Tehran apartment by Nima Javidi, and Olympic boxing drama KOZA from Ivan Ostrochovský.

FOCUS ON MEXICO, in partnership with the Year of Mexico in the UK, showcases some of the very best in Mexican cinema including new feature films, classics and a short film programme, with a total of 13 feature films screening at the Festival. These include the European Premiere of Gabriela Dominguez Ruvalcaba’s fascinating documentary THE DANCE OF THE MEMORY; a sexually-charged, grown up study of infidelity, discontent and regeneration in Ernesto Contreras’ THE OBSCURE SPRING; and THE BEGINNING OF TIME by Bernardo Arellano which looks at ageing and survival during economic and social unrest in Mexico. A selection of Classic Mexican films will also screen as part of the Focus, including Roberto Gavaldón’s supernatural drama MACARIO, the first Mexican film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Carlos Enrique Taboada’s POISON FOR THE FAIRIES, an unusual gothic tale of witchcraft, told from a child’s point of view.

As well as the usual focus on British shorts, the Animation strand features new and exciting work, plus some rarely-seen retrospective gems from across the world. This year’s programme features not just one, but two Masters of Animation; previously announced Barry Purves, and cult favourite Ralph Bakshi, who will appear via Skype after a screening of FRITZ THE CAT and will also present an exclusive work-in-progress preview of his new short LAST DAYS OF CONEY ISLAND. Now in its 26th Year, The McLaren Award for Best New British Animation continues to charm audiences with two programmes of the best new short animations from the UK.  Other highlights include Ralph Bakshi’s classic and ambitious translation of JRR Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS and his post-apocalyptic feature WIZARDS. There will also be an opportunity to explore the very best in international animation from around the world in INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION: PANORAMA.   

BLACK BOX returns with another round of thought-provoking and experimental films, plus the return for a third year of BLACK BOX LIVE that sees James Holcombe’s film, TYBURNIA accompanied by a live performance at the Traverse Theatre by Dead Rat Orchestra. Amongst the highlights are the World Premiere of Telemach’s Wiesinger KALEIDOSCOPE where he returns to Edinburgh for another idiosyncratic, feature-length film poem; a selection of shorts screenings in BLACK BOX SHORTS 1/2/3/4 and the UK Premiere of Félix Dufour-Laperrriè’s TRANSATLANTIC, an observational documentary essay about life on a cargo ship.

As previously announced, this year’s retrospective ‘LITTLE BIG SCREEN’, sponsored by American Airlines, celebrates the very best in 1960s and ‘70s American TV movies.  Classic titles screening in the strand include Michael Mann’s THE JERICHO MILE; Steven Spielberg’s DUEL and Tobe Hooper’s SALEM’S LOT.  The Festival also celebrates the multi-talented Walter Hill, one of the true great directors of the late 1960s and ‘70s in WALTER HILL: THE EARLY YEARS which will see screenings of some of his finest early works including 48 HRS; THE DRIVER; HARD TIMES; THE LONG RIDERS; SOUTHERN COMFORT; STREETS OF FIRE and THE WARRIORS.

A chance to revisit a selection of films with their own distinctive cinematic stamp, CLASSICS offers audiences a rare chance to see some of these cult hits on the big screen, including Mark Christopher’s belated director’s cut release of his cult disco film, 54: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT; a remastered version of Carol Reed’s classic film THE THIRD MAN starring Orson Welles, and a screening of Joseph Sargent’s THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE.

As the boundaries between cinema and television continue to blur, CINEMATIC TV presents two new exciting productions offering the very best in entertainment on TV. These include a sneak-peek at the second season of DOLL & EM, the hilarious comedy series following real-life friends Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells and acclaimed artist Jake Chapman’s THE MARRIAGE OF REASON & SQUALOR starring the brilliant Rhys Ifans in a stylish and surreal satire of the paperback romance.

A host of SPECIAL EVENTS also feature in the programme designed to complement the many films screening at the Festival.  These include EIFF Honorary Patron Mark Cousins’ documentary 6 DESIRES: DH LAWRENCE AND SARDINIA in which he explores a journey through Sardinia where Lawrence travelled with his wife in 1921. Cousins will be taking part in a Q&A session following the screening of the film on Monday 22 June.  Suitable for younger audiences, LIVE LIVE CINEMA: THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS sees four talented performers create an entire live soundtrack to Roger Corman’s popular 1960 B-movie (THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS). Screening at Festival Theatre, it’s guaranteed to be a wild ride!  The Edinburgh Schools Film Competition, now in its seventh year, invites young people from Edinburgh nursery, primary, secondary and special schools to submit their short films to EIFF whose selected films are then screened during the Festival for all to see. Screenings take place at Filmhouse on Saturday 27 June (Primary schools) and on Sunday 28 June (Secondary schools).  As previously announced, EIFF presents a very special 30th anniversary screening of BACK TO THE FUTURE with live accompaniment from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra on Saturday 27 June from Festival Theatre.  Additional events also taking place include the prestigious Awards Ceremony on Friday 26 June at Filmhouse and free ticketed events to INTRODUCTION TO FILM STUDIES 1: CINEMA AND THE SENSES and STUDIES 2: MUSIC FILMS, both of which take place at Filmhouse on Thursday 18 June and Friday 19 June respectively.

This year EIFF’s Short Film strand will screen 43 new short films from 12 countries. In addition to the animated shorts which screen in the Animation strand, the Festival continues to showcase a thrilling selection of shorts from UK and International filmmakers including the annual presentation of the Scottish Documentary Institute’s newest BRIDGING THE GAP collection. Shorts programmes include GROWING UP, GETTING BY, featuring some of the newest works from UK film academies: Screen Academy Scotland, National Film & Television School and the London Film School; SECRET CORNERS; THE ANATOMY OF MEMORY, EDGELANDS and SHADOWED LANDSCAPES.

As previously announced, the 69th Edinburgh International Film Festival opens with the World Premiere of Robert Carlyle’s Glasgow-set THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON starring Robert Carlyle, Emma Thompson and Ray Winstone, and the Closing Gala is the World Premiere of Scott Graham’s IONA starring Ruth Negga (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), Douglas Henshall (Shetland), Tom Brooke (The Boat That Rocked), Michelle Duncan (Atonement), Ben Gallagher and Sorcha Groundsell.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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