Trailing the Film Festival
The 74th Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place at the heart of Edinburgh’s festival season, between 18 and 25 August, and presents a fantastic programme of feature and short films celebrating the long-awaited return to cinema. This special programme of in-person and digital screenings includes 31 new features and 73 shorts – with 18 marking their world and 3 international premieres at the Festival – and with 50% of the new features in the EIFF 2021 programme from a female director or co-director. You can browse the whole programme HERE and to help you on your way we've picked out ten films that we're really looking forward to.
1. Here Today
Veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz (Billy Crystal) forms an unlikely yet hilarious and touching friendship with New York singer Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish) in the new comedy-drama Here Today. Emma – the unlikely recipient of a prize to have lunch with the comedy legend, despite not knowing who he is – gets off to a rocky start with Charlie (think seafood allergy, a hospital visit, and an epi pen). Before long, each finds in the other a sort of soul mate, forging a deep bond that kicks the generation gap aside and redefines the meaning of friendship, love, and trust.
2. Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Director Jonathan Butterell transitions from his musical success in London's West End to feature directorial debut with Everybody's Talking About Jamie. Based upon a real-life story, 16-year-old Jamie New overcomes prejudices from his unsupportive dad, an uninspiring career advisor and ignorant classmates to fulfil his ambition to become a fierce and fearless drag queen. Butterell has created a raucous, joyous, feel-good comedy musical, as we watch Jamie step out into the spotlight with his best friend Pritti and loving Mum cheering him at every step of the way. Watch for Richard E. Grant’s interpretation of Hugo Battersby, aka the fabulous warrior queen Loco Chanelle!
3. The Man Who Sold His Skin
Oscar®-nominee for Best International Feature Film and the first Muslim woman to achieve this distinction, Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania introduces a thought-provoking story of a Syrian migrant’s skin-deep consciousness about what it takes to find the love of his life in Europe. Is the contemporary artist who contracts refugee Sam Ali (Yahya Mahayni) as his latest living piece of art liberating him from a doomed fate back home or enslaving him through objectification on display in museums around the world?
4. Prince of Muck
Lawrence MacEwen has farmed the Isle of Muck since the late 1960s. With his family he has created a rural retreat, out of time with the rapid transformations of the world around it. Revered for his eco-conscious stewardship in the 1970s, Lawrence now finds himself stubbornly battling to preserve the island for the next generation. Dutch filmmaker Cindy Jansen captures a uniquely cinematic portrait of a place and a person haunted by the past and struggling to maintain their relevance for the future.
Nicolas Cage stars as Rob, a reclusive truffle hunter, whose beloved truffle-finding pig goes missing. A chef mastering earthy dishes, he must return to Portland and his previous life in the hospitality world in search of his beloved foraging animal, going after her pignappers. Following the heart-warming documentaries Gunda and The Truffle Hunters, this is clearly the Year of the Pig with Cage up front and centre. Award-winning actor, musician, singer, and composer Alex Wolff joins him in the Oregon wilderness.
6. The Gig Is Up
So much of contemporary reality is entirely dependent upon an increasing number of heavily exploited workforces, from Amazon to Uber. Canadian filmmaker Shannon Walsh pulls back the curtain on the global gig economy, creating a complex and compelling cinematic essay about the role of work within modern tech-savvy societies. Pitting the ‘blue-sky’ thinking of Silicon Valley against the harsh realities of wage slavery and precarity at the coal-face of gig working, this is a vital and probing account of the revolutions, going almost unnoticed, within 21st century working environments.
Pop legends Sparks Bros co-wrote this musical and reached out to French Cinema enfant terrible Leos Carax (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, Holy Motors) to direct. The film chronicles the relationship between an opera singer, a comedian and their newborn, the latter witnessing drastic career changes as she grows along with unexpected twists in the dynamics of the family. Starring Marion Cotillard (Inception, La vie en Rose) and Adam Driver (Marriage Story, upcoming House of Gucci), Annette opened the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
8. The Road Dance
Kirsty Mcleod, is a young woman, coming of age in a small island community in the years before WW1. She dreams ofthe wider world and a life away from the harsh land and strict religion of her island home. Tragedy strikes twice, once at a village party, and once again, when her boyfriend is sent to war. Inspired by a true story, the film offers a believable window on the rhythms of Hebridean island life at the turn of the twentieth century.
In the pre-Covid days of 2019 people within Hong Kong donned face masks as a means of fighting back against the oppressive surveillance culture of mainland China. Jennifer Ngo’s journalistic account of the protests that followed, traces the political journeys of four young Hong Kong citizens, who are referred to as: The Student, The Artist, The Daughter and The Believer. Between this quartet of portraits and immersive on-the-ground footage of the increasingly violent battles with police, Ngo creates a film throbbing with the urgency of a political moment that could well be a flashpoint for a much wider conflict to come.
Kamal played by British-Libyan Adam Ali (Manchester-based actor seen in Apple TV+’s Little America) is an Iraqi young man migrate into Europe on foot. Merciless wilderness and human corruption combine to discourage him from crossing the dangerous border between Turkey and Bulgaria. Captured by a group of Bulgarian vigilantes calling themselves Migrant Hunters, Kamal manages to escape and run for his life but the next encounter may be doom or salvation. Europa had its world premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes this year.
And if you're in Edinburgh, don't forget to join us out and about for:
Film Fest in the City, 19-25 August
St Andrew Square Garden will host a week of free screenings, including Grease, Casablanca, Star Wars and Superman for the first time. Four films a day will be screened, however tickets must be booked in advance due to crowd capacity and distancing restrictions. See the full daily running order HERE.