As cinema doors across the Scottish capital open to celebrate a very special 70th birthday the Edinburgh International Film Festival ushers in the start of its 2016 edition. With as many worthwhile stories to tell as any septuagenarian, and exuding prestige, oodles of experience and an extraordinary range of cinematic treats, this year’s festival once again combines the best of homegrown British talent and an enormous variety of international film from all reaches of the globe.
Few things are linked so synonymously to Scotland as the game of golf and fine whisky. Tommy’s Honour, a moving historical drama charting the life and times of the Morris family – featuring Peter Mullan, Sam Neill, Jack Lowden and Ophelia Lovibond – is the Opening Night Gala while Whisky Galore!, director Gillies McKinnon’s remake of a classic, will bring the curtain down in smoothly blended fashion. Sandwiched between these slices of hearty Scottish bread a lucky festivalgoer is well and truly spoilt for choice. Even if your memory can be a little unreliable the UK premiere of Finding Dory will be at the top of many people’s list of must-sees. Rebecca Miller’s rom-com Maggie’s Plan, Meg Ryan’s WWII-set drama Ithaca and Paul Rudd comedy The Fundamentals of Caring are just a taste of what the American Dreams strand has to offer.
However, venture off the beaten track and the real jewels of this year’s EIFF can be found if cinephiles dig a little deeper and take a risk on lesser known names and previously unexplored areas of the world. With a wealth of films from across Scandinavia, one strand of the festival is dedicated entirely to cinema from Finland. Documentary junkies can witness anything from the life and times of Zlatan Ibrahimović, Hollywood’s Golden Age, whale hunting off the Faroe Islands, the importance of insects as a food source, Kim Jong-il and the arms industry. Delve into the Directors’ Showcase or World Perspectives and an array of enticing features from Mexico, Denmark, Iraq, New Zealand and South Korea among many more await.
Though being among those lucky enough to attend the first showings of many films in the UK, and even a number of World Premieres, sometimes it’s nice to revisit a classic of the big screen and if you’re feeling the need for some nostalgia look no further than a 4K restoration of Highlander on its 30th birthday, take in some late 1980’s bravura French attitude with one of the Cinema du Look retrospective, or see stellar 70mm prints of the best of Kubrick, Kurosawa, Lean and Tati as the great masters intended. Many directors and actors will be present for showing but as and when your eyes begin to see everything in widescreen, special in-person events with Kevin Smith, Kim Cattrall, Jeremy Thomas and Dominique Pinon will allow for insightful, engaging respite before you head back to your place in the dark of a theatre.
The 70th Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place from 15-26 June. For info visit edfilmfest.org.uk.
Matthew Anderson | @behind_theseens