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Hannah Woodhead

10 things to see at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018

Brie Larson’s directorial debut and a special focus on American female filmmakers are among the highlights of the 72nd EIFF.

Now in its 72nd year, the Edinburgh International Film Festival returns this summer with a programme packed with exciting filmmaking talent from home and abroad. The festival’s Opening and Closing gala films have been announced as Puzzle and Swimming with Men respectively, but from 24 June and 1 July there is a wealth of cinematic discovery awaiting visitors to the Scottish capital. With an American cinema retrospective and a refreshing number of female filmmakers on the docket, here are 10 highlights worth making the trip for.

1. What Will People Say

A rebellious teenager is banished from Oslo to Pakistan by her parents for defying tradition in Iram Haq’s autobiographical drama. Exploring the pressure of familial relationships as well as the notion of being forced to adapt to a foreign landscape, the film received positive reviews at 2017 Toronto Film Festival.

2. Steel Country

Andrew Scott plays a man with autism who becomes obsessed with investigating the disappearance of a young boy in Simon Fellows’ film. Suspecting that the police are covering something up, he turns detective against the backdrop of Trump’s America. Having received rave reviews for his performance in the Almeida Theatre’s Hamlet back at the start of 2017 as well as his turn as Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock, we’re intrigued to see Andrew Scott in a lead role.

3. Papillon

Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen starred in the original 1973 adaptation of Henri Charrière’s novel, but Michael Noer’s updated version promises to be more than a straight-forward remake. Starring Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek as prisoners shipped off to a penitentiary in 1930s French Guiana, the first trailer hints at a harrowing watch.

4. Unicorn Store

Brie Larson makes her directorial debut as well as starring alongside Samuel L Jackson and Joan Cusack in this film about a unicorn-obsessed art student who’s offered a unique opportunity to make her dreams of owning a unicorn come true. Given Larson’s on-screen talent, we’re excited to see her first outing behind the camera.

5. Shorts: Defiant Bodies – Celebrating Barbara Hammer

This retrospective of Barbara Hammer’s short film work gives viewers the opportunity to discover (or rediscover) a legend within the world of experimental cinema, from Dyketactics to Vital Signs. Her films explore themes including sexuality and life and death over the course of 20 years, from the 1970s to the early ’90s.

6. An Elephant Sitting Still

Following Bo Hu’s suicide in October 2017, his directorial swnasong receives its UK premiere at EIFF. A sprawling four-hour drama set over the course of one day in the northern Chinese city of Manzhouli, An Elephant Sitting Still captures the lives of four misfits attempting to escape their pasts while waiting for a train which promises to carry them far away from their problems.

7. A Nightmare on Elm Street

If you’ve never seen Wes Craven’s seminal horror classic (or never seen it on the big screen) now’s the time to remedy that. Freddy Kruger not your thing? There’s more to choose from – EIFF are showing a number of spine-chilling cult favourites, including Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist and George A Romero’s Day of the Dead.

8. Island of the Hungry Ghosts

Gabrielle Brady’s documentary confronts the trauma of displacement, exploring the reality on Christmas Island, which houses a high-security detention facility for those seeking asylum in Australia. Told through the eyes of a trauma councillor responsible for supporting detainees, Island of the Hungry Ghosts looks to provide an important insight into a little-seen process.

9. Solis

An astronaut finds himself trapped in an escape pod heading towards the sun in Carl Strathie’s sci-fi drama, starring Steven Ogg and Alice Lowe. Comparisons are inevitable to the likes of Gravity and Moon, but we’re intrigued by the premise, and Lowe is always a delight.

10. Smithereens

This year the festival is paying tribute to some of the great female American filmmakers, giving audiences the chance to experience their work on the big screen. Susan Seidelman’s Smithereens is a bold drama that laid the foundations for her later work in Desperately Seeking Susan – a chance to watch it in a cinema is not to be missed.

The 72nd Edinburgh International Film Festival runs from 24 June to 1 July. For more info visit edfilmfest.org.uk

Published 23 May 2018

Tags: Alice Lowe Brie Larson Edinburgh Film Festival Susan Seidelman Wes Craven

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