Edinburgh International Film Festival diary

Lothian Road's Filmhouse

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is underway

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is coming to an end but there’s still a great buzz about town. Our roving reporters Shell and Sirin Bryson are still managing to squeeze in as much as they can.

You can read in depth reviews of the films on their End Titles website and follow their live updates and film tips on twitter.

Just addedtop film picks so far

Monday 21st June

A perfect day for sitting in a cinema with awful, wintery weather over the city. We trudge to Cameo for the film of the day: A return trip to norway, this time without the Trolls. King of Devils Island is based on the true story of an brutal uprising at the Bastoy reform school for boys. Stark, breathtaking cinematography and outstanding acting, the film transports you into this brittle, frozen place.

We stay at the Cameo for a film we’ve been really looking forwards to (plus we don’t fancy getting soaked again): Almanya – Welcome to Germany. The story of a Turkish family who emigrate to Germany in the late sixties for work. Warm, funny and often moving, this film follows the family as they journey back to Turkey. Lovely film, highly recommended.

Sunday 19th June

Today was planned to be something a little different – a sci-fi flavour on a rather grey day.

By Day By Night, a startling sci-fi drama from Mexico. Human kind has been divided into those who live by day, and those who live by night. Slow-paced with startlingly beautiful cinematography.

Cliched end-of-the-world type stuff next with The Divide (from “Hitman” director Xavier Gens) seems to have been part-torn from the script of the game “Fallout 3”. As nuclear bombs rain down on New York City, a group of apartment dwellers find themselves trapped in Michael Biehn’s basement. Bloody, violent, predictable, but competently shot, however fairly effective – not for the squeamish.

From the Filmhouse across to Festivalhouse@Teviot. IMDb founder Col Needham is being interviewed by Jonathan Melville. Fascinating stuff – we had no idea that IMDb started in the UK. We can still remember when it was such a tiny web site.

Heading out we checked out the Convento art exhibition at the Teviot and bumped into Convento director Jarred Alterman who suggested we go see the UK premier of his documentary. When the director himself suggests it, how could we say no?

Convento is a documentary / art film shot at a 400 year old restored monastery in rural portugal. Director Alterman beautifully captures the kinetic animatronic robo beasts of Christiaan Zwanikken and his family.

After the the screening we head back to Teviot to take another look at the selection of Christiaans work and drinks with the director. The art is quite fascinating up close, and we highly recommend taking a look.

We spot Bill Nighy outside!

Saturday 18th June

We start the day early to collect tickets for tonights premier of Perfect Sense – one of the big screenings of the festival. Then it’s off to Cameo for a screening of the much hyped Norwegian film Troll Hunter. It doesn’t disappoint. The film is wonderfully fun – a blend of Blair Witch Project and Norwegian folk-tales, this tongue-in-cheek blood-free suspense is very entertaining. Highly recommended!

Next, The Caller. When Mary (played by Rachelle Lefevre of Twilight) moves into her new apartment following a messy break up with her husband, she receives a mysterious phone call… What starts out as a fairly cliched manner manages to twist and turn into an effective modern horror set in steamy Puerto Rican summer.

In the evening, it’s off to plush Festival Theatre for the “Tartan carpet” premier of Perfect Sense. Packed foyer filled with eager fans and press waiting for a glimpse of Ewan McGregor, director and other cast members. Incredible atmosphere if rather bizarre. The film is a sci-fi romance set against a mysterious epidemic that strips the infected of their senses one at a time. Certainly an emotional film which, despite the great performances and solid direction, looses its focus from time to time.

Leaving the theatre a moment of cinephile glee as Ewan McGregor’s car pauses to let us cross the road.

Troll Hunter is screening on June 22nd & 24th

The Caller is screening on June 20th & 22nd

Perfect Sense is screening June 19th

Friday 17th June

First stop, the Cameo for a busy screening for the British coming-of-age film Albatross. This feature debut from director Niall MacCormick is wonderfully pitch perfect. Jessica Brown Findlay shines as the vivacious Emelia – definitely an actress to watch for in the future. The film really charmed us and we highly recommend catching a screening.

Back over to the Filmhouse for one of the festivals “big” films, Jack Goes Boating – directorial debut and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. A relationship drama/comedy possibly trying too hard to be quirky.
If you’re looking for somewhere to hang out between screenings, the Filmhouse bar buzzes with film fans, press and deligates, although you may have to fight for a table.

After lunch, ‘Rabies’ was a promising “teens lost in the woods” horror film from Israel. Sadly it achieved something rare – not a single likeable character on top of a generic ‘plot’. Avoid.

Heading home through the city it was lovely to see a fair few folks watching the outdoor screen in St Andrew Square. If you’re thinking of popping along for a free film there check the weather first and bring something you can sit on.

Albatross screens on the 19th and 21st June

Jack Goes Boarding screens  on the 19th and 21st June
Rabies screens on 20th and 22nd June.

Thursday 16th June

Another early start and we make a dash for the Filmhouse to catch a 0915 preview of The Borrower Arrietty. We’re huge fans of anime (Japanese animation) from Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away”, “My Neighbour Totoro”) and we were really looking forwards to this screening. The EIFF programme suggested that this would be the English dub, but we were pleasantly surprised to find this is the original Japanese version with subtitles. The movie is beautiful, heartwarming and sad, some of the very best observational animation there is.

Barely time to walk out of the screen and back, before we move from Japan to South Korea with the film Bleak Night. Perhaps not as bleak as the title suggest, the film unravels the death of a high-school student in a tense, haunted coming of age story.

The Borrower Arrietty is screening on June 18th & 20th, but (unless changed) isn’t the English dub advertising in the EIFF programme.

Bleak Night is screening on June 18th & 19th.

Wednesday 15th June

Another early start, and we find ourselves at the Filmhouse in one of the smaller screens to watch ‘On The Shore’. A story about obsession, love and loneliness, Beau Rivage is set in the beautiful city of Nice. A worn-out cops life begins to unravel after discovering the body of a beautiful woman in a balcony apartment.

A dash up the road to Cameo for the screening of British prison drama Ghosted (debut film from Craig Viveiros). We plunged out of the glorious Edinburgh sun into a pitch black theatre – almost a perfect set-up for this claustrophobic film. A conventional story of karma and consequence.
A break for lunch watching the graduates spilling out of Usher Hall across the road, and then it’s back into the Filmhouse for Our Day Will Come. Bullied, awkward redheaded Warcraft player is taken under the wing Vincent Cassel’s equally outcast character. Setting off on an increasingly out of control road trip, violent mayhem follows.
Tonight Edinburgh International Film Festival opens with the gala presentation of The Guard at Festival Theatre.

Tuesday 14th June

EIFF Preview: The Guard, Phase 7, Tomboy

Glorious weather as the press screenings kick off across Edinburgh today with a preview for what is in store at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

First a chance to look at the opening gala film at the Filmhouse, “The Guard”, staring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. This black comedy has wonderful dialogue from the start – that is if you’re not easily offended.

Following this, it’s a dash up to the Cameo Cinema for something completely different. “Phase 7”, a post-apocalyptic genre film from Argentina. Interesting film – think “Rec”-lite.

After lunch in the suntrap of Festival Square, then it’s back to Cameo for “Tomboy”. A wonderful child cast in this beautifully shot preteen drama. This is our pick of the day.

The Guard is gala screening on June 15th

Phase 7 is screening on June 16th & 17th

Tomboy is screening on June 16th & 21st

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