EIFF 2016: Seven for 70

Paul F Cockburn 12 June, 2016 0

Paul F Cockburn gives pointers to seven films worth seeing at this year’s 70th edition of the Edinburgh International Film Festival

Tommy’s Honour

This year’s opening gala is described as a “captivating period drama about a strained relationship between father and son”, and comes with a notable cast including the ever-reliable Peter Mullan.

However, the main point of interest is likely to be director Jason Connery – there’ll be at least some Edinburgh citizens crossing their fingers that his father, Sean, might make an appearance. Set during the early days of professional golf, Tommy’s Honour is a more mainstream offering from Connery, whose previous films as director have tended towards horror (2011’s The Devil’s Tomb) and thriller (2012’s The Philly Kid).

Wednesday 15 June; 8:55pm; Festival Theatre, 13-29 Nicolson Street, EH8 9FT, website

A Reykjavik Porno

Arguably the film with the most eye-catching title at this year’s festival, A Reykjavík Porno is one of two debut films – apparently shot more or less simultaneously – written and directed by acclaimed Scottish theatre director Graeme Maley.

During his career, Maley has consistently brought various aspects of Icelandic culture to his homeland, and this film appears to offer a particularly individual response to the international popularity of Nordic noir. In A Reykjavík Porno, Maley explores some of our darkest desires and obsessions in an intriguing and different way – with music by the controversial Icelandic feminist hip hob band Reykavikadetur.

Thursday 23 June; 6:05pm; Cineworld, Fountain Park, 130/133 Dundee Street, EH11 1AF.
Friday 24 June; 8:35pm; Filmhouse 2, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ, website

Gary Numan: Android in La La Land

EIFF originally started out as a documentary film festival, and the genre – increasingly revitalised and popular in recent years – remains at the core of the festival’s schedule. Here, co-directors Steve Read and Rob Alexander follow 1980s’ synthpop pioneer Numan as he heads back on the comeback trail in America.

At times it may feel like a glorified promo for Numan’s tour, but it’s remains a fascinating story about creativity, self-realisation (Numan’s belated self-diagnosis as having Asperger’s syndrome) and love – arguably, it was his relationship with fan Gemma which helped him rediscover his passion and drive for music.

Sunday 19 June; 8:50pm; Odeon 2, 118 Lothian Road, EH3 8BG
Tuesday 21 June; 8:50pm; Cineworld, Fountain Park, 130/133 Dundee Street, EH11 1AF, website

The Rezort

Described as “The Walking Dead meets Westworld” – or, on the US poster, as “A Vacation to Die For” – this colourful horror feature from director Steve Barker (Outpost and Outpost: Black Sun) continues EIFF’s long tradition of offering up some late-night horror.

This one has the notable hook of including Glenrothes-born Dougray Scott as a former zombie hunter brought in to quell a violent rebellion in a post-“zombie apocalypse” theme park where holidaymakers can pay to shoot the undead. The film screens with short film The Northleach Horror, written and directed by Edinburgh-based filmmaker, David Cairns.

Friday 17 June; 11:25pm; Filmhouse 1, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ.
Saturday 18 June; 8:35pm; Cineworld, Fountain Park, 130/133 Dundee Street, EH11 1AF, website

Ithaca

Based on William Saroyan’s acclaimed novel The Human Comedy, this film has been described as an elegant, moving and beautifully shot coming-of-age story. The film’s focus is 14 year old Homer (Alex Neustaedter) who begins delivering telegrams during the Second World War, and whose life changes as he increasingly has to delivers bad news.

While a pair of small but impactful cameos – from Tom Hanks and Sam Shepard – can be seen as the director pulling in a few favours from her friends, they certainly don’t unbalance what is a startlingly assured and accomplished directorial debut from Meg Ryan.

Thursday 23 June; 6:25pm; Filmhouse 1, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ
Friday 24 June; 8:40pm; Cineworld, Fountain Park, 130/133 Dundee Street, EH11 1AF, website

Y Llyfrgell (The Library Suicides)

At least some Doctor Who fans may be interested in this stylish, somewhat off-beat Welsh-language thriller directed by Euros Lyn (director of numerous episodes starring David Tennant, as well as Torchwood: Children of Earth, plus episodes of Sherlock and Broadchurch) and starring Catrin Stewart (best known as Doctor Who Paternoster Gang-member Jenny).

Stewart plays twin librarians out for revenge on the biographer they believe drove their mother to suicide. It’s set within the “stately” National Library of Wales which, unusually for a major Welsh institution, has yet to be a location for the Cardiff-based Time Lord.

Friday 17 June; 6:20pm; Cineworld, Fountain Park, 130/133 Dundee Street, EH11 1AF.
Saturday 18 June; 3:45pm; Cineworld, Fountain Park, 130/133 Dundee Street, EH11 1AF, website

Whisky Galore

Given the iconic status of the much-loved 1949 Ealing film directed by Alexander Mackendrick, many might wonder if we really need a more colourful (literally) adaptation of Compton McKenzie’s fictional account of how the whisky-deprived inhabitants of Eriskay took it upon themselves to salvage as much of the “water of life” as possible from the hold of the cargo ship SS Politician after it ran aground nearby.

Yet there’s hopefully a chance that director Gillies MacKinnon (best known for his 1998 feature, Hideous Kinky) and a notable Scottish cast can bring something beyond just charm to proceedings.

Sunday 26 June; 5:15pm; Festival Theatre, 13-29 Nicolson Street, EH8 9FT
Sunday 26 June; 8:45pm; Filmhouse 1, 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ, website