As you would have seen in today’s “Five Things” column, the 2013 Edinburgh International Film Festival Opening Night Gala screening of Breathe In from director Drake Doremus at the Festival Theatre takes place tonight. The film begins at 9:15, but the show starts well before that as the red carpet will be rolled out for all the big names in attendance. If you’re coming along, don’t forget your camera. And your tux.
Once all the glitz of Opening Night is out of the way, the festival proper can begin tomorrow. Looking through the programme can be a daunting experience for the best of us, so between now and June 30 I will be picking out a few highlights each day covering as wide a range of films as I can. Beginning with…
Days Of Grace
This Mexican thriller tells the overlapping stories of three kidnappings that take place in one city during three successive World Cup tournaments. In 2002, the city’s last honest cop (Tenoch Huerta) joins up with a charismatic commander to bring down the head of the organised abduction ring. In 2006, a hostage (Carlos Bardem) struggles to bond with one of his kidnappers in an effort to stay alive long enough to get back to his family. And in 2010, a victim’s wife (Dolores Heredia) battles the bureaucracy of her husband’s business so that she can put his ransom together, while her maid deals with the sudden suspicion that the kidnapper may be closer to home than she realises.
Writer/director Everardo Gout has packed enough story for three separate films into barely two hours, and those two hours go by in a flash. There is practically no time wasted on such frivolities as character development or backstory; these nuggets are dealt out economically and naturally as the stories build. Without captions to tell us which year we are in, you will need to be on the ball to keep up, but this becomes less of a concern once the three strands become more clearly delineated. The football in the background serves as the calendar both to the audience and the characters, with Bardem’s victim using reports of the matches to keep track of how long it has been since he was taken. Football also gives the movie its title, the Days of Grace being those 30 days every four years when this sport-mad country turns its collective eye to the tournament, and “the crooks lower their guard… but so do the police.”
In a wholly impressive cast, the standouts include Tenoch Huerta as Officer Esparza and Kristian Ferrer as Doroteo, the boy who finds himself growing attached to the man he is supposed to kill if the family don’t pay up. Carlos Bardem spends 99% of his screentime with a bag over his head but still manages to give a captivating performance (pardon the pun) through his internal monologues and his football conversations with young Doroteo.
The photography in this film is magnificent. From sweeping helicopter shots over the city, via a gunfight turned foot chase, to a hostage’s point of view through the cloth mesh of his head-sack, Luis David Sansans and his kinetic camera match the relentless energy of the story beat for beat. As thrilling as it undoubtedly is though, you may need to take your motion sickness pill beforehand if you are particularly sensitive to such things.
A Long Way From Home
From the frantic streets of Mexico, we move to the more sedate avenues of France with this relationship drama from writer/director Virginia Gilbert.
Adapting her own short story, Gilbert’s film is about Joseph and Brenda (played by James Fox and Brenda Fricker), who have retired to Nimes to live out the rest of their years in a state of perpetual vacation. The comfortable routine they have built for themselves – breakfast with Radio 4 and the Times crossword every morning; the same dinner at the same local restaurant with the same banal banter every evening – is thrown into disarray with the arrival of Suzanne and Mark, a young couple on holiday. Despite his deep love for his wife, Joseph is not averse to a spot of window-shopping, and he develops an instant crush on the beautiful and energetic Suzanne (Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer). As the two couples spend more time together Joseph finds himself becoming more and more of a lovesick schoolboy going to relatively extreme lengths to be around Suzanne, to the unspoken consternation of Brenda and the obliviousness of Mark.
It goes without saying that James Fox and Brenda Fricker are both excellent, while Dormer and former Eastender Paul Nicholls (as Mark) are just as good. Gilbert is careful to avoid painting any of her characters in a negative light, with all four of them remaining sympathetic and believably real throughout.
The issues of old age, regret and longing are handled with a light and intelligent touch in this charming film.
Days of Grace is screening at 18:05 tomorrow, and A Long Way From Home is at 18:15, both at Cineworld. If you’d like to see both, they each have a second show this weekend, with A Long Way From Home on Saturday afternoon and Days of Grace on Sunday evening.
The programme for this year’s EIFF is as diverse as always, and the official trailer for it shows you a mere hint of what will be on offer from 19-30 June. There are 146 films with 30 premieres of varying classes, so far too many to take in without complete immersion in the brochure, either online here or available from The Filmhouse.
Tickets are on sale to Filmhouse members from this morning at 10:00am and to the general public from Monday 3 June 2013. The festival opens with Breathe In and closes with a film set in Scotland and starring Karen Gillan, Not Another Happy Ending.
The Family Gala on 23 June 2013 will be another Disney Pixar Feature, Monsters University:-
With voices of stars such as Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Steve Buscemi, Frank Oz, how could it be anything other than wonderfully entertaining? This is a prequel to Monsters Inc, when all the monsters are studying to become scarers….
This film is important in the global and local sense as it encapsulates the current state of the environmental predicament. It poses tough questions that we all need to ask ourselves.
Have we reached a tipping point in May 2013 when scientists measured 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere?
350.org, NASA, and many other scientific groups reckon that we need to reduce our carbon in the atmosphere to 350 for a safe level for the Earth-and ourselves ultimately!
None of us has the answer individually, but perhaps together we do!
Wednesday 29 May 2013 7:00pm, North Edinburgh Arts, 15a Pennywell Court , Edinburgh EH4 4TZ Telephone: 0131 315 2151
Award-winning director-writer Drake Doremus’ moving and beautifully acted BREATHE IN will be the Opening Night film at the 67th edition of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF).
Starring Felicity Jones, Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan, BREATHE IN will have its European Premiere on Wednesday 19 June at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh with Felicity Jones and Drake Doremus in attendance. The film will open nationwide on 19 July through Curzon Film World.
Chris Fujiwara, EIFF Artistic Director, said: ‘In a healthy year for American cinema, BREATHE IN is clearly a stand-out. It’s an emotionally powerful, beautifully understated and intelligent work from director-writer Drake Doremus, who reveals tremendous sensitivity, style and skill. He also draws superb performances from Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones. BREATHE IN is the ideal opening film for our festival this year.’
BREATHE IN director Drake Doremus said: ‘I’m very excited that BREATHE IN has been selected to play the Edinburgh International Film Festival and to be given the opening night slot is overwhelming. I now look forward to visiting Edinburgh and celebrating not just the event but the Festival’s recognition of a film I am incredibly proud of.’
As summer turns to fall, music teacher Keith Reynolds (Guy Pearce) privately reminisces about his days as a starving artist in the city. While his wife, Megan (Amy Ryan), and daughter, Lauren (Mackenzie Davis), look forward to Lauren’s final year of high school, Keith clings to those evenings he’s called on to sub as a cellist with a prestigious Manhattan symphony. Megan decides the family should host a foreign exchange student. Sophie (Felicity Jones), a British high school senior, settles in comfortably, but soon challenges the family dynamics. She reinvigorates the impulsiveness of Keith’s personality which ultimately pushes their seemingly perfect family into unfamiliar territory.
Writer/director Drake Doremus, winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for LIKE CRAZY, reunites with co-writer Ben York Jones and producers Jonathon Schwartz, Andrea Sperling, Steven M. Rales and Mark Roybal for this revealing family drama.
BREATHE IN will be released by Curzon Film World on 19 July. As previously announced, NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING will close this year’s EIFF on 30 June.
Flying Blind is showing tonight at The Filmhouse – for one night only.
In Flying Blind, a woman who has dedicated her life to her career, as a designer of military drones, finds her carefully constructed world falling apart when she falls in love with a man who might be more than he appears.
The first thing to note about Flying Blind is something that in an ideal world would not be in the slightest bit noteworthy: here is a feature film where the central character is a single woman in her forties, who is neither depressed by her singledom nor embarrassed by her sexuality.
As Frankie, Helen McCrory is a captivating presence. She has the intelligent eyes of an aerospace engineer, the beaming smile of someone in the first flush of a new relationship, and the potty mouth of a woman in a traditionally male-dominated profession. It is absolutely no surprise that a man twenty years her junior would fall for her. That man is Kahil, a French-Algerian refugee on a student visa, whose interests in Frankie may or may not extend beyond the romantic. The exoticness of Kahil’s Muslim background soon gives way to suspicion when Frankie is told that he is a person of interest to the Security Services.
This is the point where Polish director Katarzyna Klimkiewicz gives us the central questions of the film, which are whether anyone can really be trusted and, in this world of heightened security and vigilance we now inhabit, are our preconceptions of someone a help or a hindrance. As Frankie begins to question the motives and intentions of her new man, the story turns from a character piece to a detective yarn with racially-charged overtones. This third act shift could have been dangerously approaching the type of ham-fisted “is he or isn’t he a terrorist” plot we have seen in a thousand oh-so-serious dramas over the last decade and a half (such as Homeland, starring McCrory’s husband Damien Lewis). Luckily for Flying Blind, the classy cast combined with the director’s restraint and belief in her characters manage to keep things on an even keel.
Speaking of a classy cast, our leading lady is ably supported by Kenneth Cranham as Frankie’s father, and Najib Oudghiri as Kahil, with Robbie Coltrane’s former Cracker nemesis Lorcan Cranitch as Morehouse, the MI6 man trying to keep tabs on all concerned.
After having its World Premiere here at last summer’s Film Festival, Flying Blind returns to Edinburgh for a screening at the Filmhouse TODAY at 6:10, followed by a filmmakers’ Q&A. The movie then heads out west to play at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sunday April 28th at 5pm, with Kenneth Cranham in attendance.
Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is pleased to confirm the return of the Student Critics Jury. Now in its second year, the initiative supports the future of film criticism and this year will bring to Edinburgh a jury of seven aspiring film critics.
The Student Critics Jury programme, inaugurated at EIFF 2012, affirms EIFF’s support for the future of film criticism by giving the next generation of film critics an opportunity to gain practical experience in their craft under the guidance of established professional critics. Members of the jury are selected from applications received from Scotland’s colleges and universities. In addition to giving an award, the jury members will write short essays about the films and the festival. Selected pieces will be published on the EIFF web site. The jurors will also determine the winner of the Student Critics Jury Award, presented at the EIFF Awards Ceremony.
Chris Fujiwara, Artistic Director of EIFF, said: “This is a time of huge changes in the profession and the practice of film criticism, and it’s more vital than ever that upcoming critics be given the encouragement and the opportunities they need to advance in their field. I’m very happy that again this year, thanks to the generous support of James and Morag Anderson, our festival will confirm our commitment to this mission in a concrete and practical manner. I look forward to meeting this year’s Student Critics in Edinburgh.”
The students will be chosen on the basis of a 500 word essay submitted by 13 May which can be written on any recent or classic film, demonstrating the applicant’s writing skills as well as passion for and knowledge of cinema. Once selected, the seven chosen students will be brought to Edinburgh for six days of the festival (EIFF runs 19-30 June), during which they will be mentored by leading international critics.
Last year’s Student Critics Jury members were Genevieve Bicknell from Edinburgh College of Art, Jonathan Glen from Glasgow University, and Liam Nolan from Napier University, who awarded the prize to ‘Sleepless Night’ directed by Jang Kun-jae for “his simple yet compelling story of modern romance in which the unremarkable becomes remarkable.”
Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is proud to announce NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING starring Karen Gillan and Stanley Weber (alongside Amy Manson, Iain de Caestecker, Kate Dickie, Freya Mavor, Gary Lewis and Henry Ian Cusick), as the Closing Night film of the 67th edition of the Festival.
On 30 June Karen Gillan’s new rom com will end this year’s Film Festival at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. Actors, directors and producers are all expected on the red carpet when they attend the World Premiere of the film.
Chris Fujiwara, EIFF Artistic Director, said:- “Speaking as somebody who, before coming to Scotland, knew Scotland partly through its portrayal in films, I’m really excited to find in NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING a fresh, interesting, and almost idyllic take on the cultural vibrancy of Scottish city life. The film also shows how well the time-honoured genre of romantic comedy can work in the contemporary Scottish context. The film will add just the right note of celebration with which to close our festival this year.”
NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING is directed by John McKay (Crush, We’ll Take Manhattan), is produced by Claire Mundell (Crying With Laughter, Weekend) of Synchronicity Films, co-produced by Wendy Griffin (Wasted) and written by David Solomons (The Great Ghost Rescue, Five Children and It).
Here is John McKay talking about the project last year:-
When struggling, maverick publisher Tomas Duval discovers his only successful author Jane Lockhart is blocked he knows he has to unblock her or he’s finished – with her newfound success, she’s become too damn happy and she can’t write when she’s happy. The only trouble is, the worse he makes her feel, the more he realises he is in love with her…
Producer Claire Mundell said:- “We’re thrilled and excited to bring our feel-good film to the Edinburgh Film Festival and honoured to be the Closing Night film. Living and working in Scotland, we wanted to create something representative of the bustling creativity and wonderful, witty sense of humour we see around us. The result is NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING; a film that’s unashamedly upbeat, romantic and funny. We want audiences to be charmed and leave the cinema feeling great,so it’s fitting that our film will be a very happy finale to what will be an exceptional year at the Festival.”
NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING is presented by British Film Company and Creative Scotland in association with BBC Scotland and is a Synchronicity Films Production. Executive Producers are Steve Milne, Robbie Allen, Ewan Angus and Christian Eisenbeiss. Additional funders include Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, Glasgow Film Office and Southwest Scotland Screen. International sales by LevelK. Post-production by the award winning Molinare.
The youth group which meets on Victoria Terrace called 6VT was an instrumental part of the launch of a new film on Saturday night. The All Stars actors visited the Edinburgh youth club to help launch the premiere of their film which is to be launched nationwide next month.
In partnership with Youth Scotland, member group 6VT hosted the actors of new dance film All Stars at the weekend. All Stars follows shy kid Jaden (Akai) as he teams up with loudmouth Ethan (Theo Stevenson) to raise money to save their local youth club from closure. The film is due for nationwide release on 3 May.
Stars Theo Stevenson (Horrid Henry: The Movie) and Akai (Streetdance films) visited the Victoria Terrace youth centre and spent time with young people who attend the centre’s street dance workshops as part of the film’s nationwide tour. Akai and Theo joined in with dance activity and shared experiences about working on the film with the group.
The previous evening, young people from 6VT and Kic Dance watched the film at the Omni as part of a packed audience. The event went down a storm; Sharon Jones from Kic Dance said:
“Everyone made us so welcome, the kids (and adults) were star struck! Everyone enjoyed the film and very much appreciated such a fabulous opportunity. The kids have memories that will last a lifetime.”
The film and its stars moved on from Edinburgh to Glasgow’s Cineworld at another packed screening attended by young people from A&M Training. Ashley Jenson also attended the event and answered a Q&A session afterwards. She highlighted the importance of youth clubs in local communities.
Carol Downie, Chief Executive of Youth Scotland said:-“Youth groups are really important to local communities as they enable young people to maximise their potential through a range of social and educational opportunities. Funding is vital to ensure that young people are given the choices to succeed and develop. All Stars’ message helps illustrate the need for vibrant youth clubs in local communities and its nationwide release will bring home this message to many thousands of people.
“The film highlights a problem that a number of youth clubs and groups around the country are currently facing due to reduced funding and lack of investment.”
All Stars is released nationwide on 3 May. – Trailer below!
Photos from Stuart Nicol Photographer
Edinburgh’s Brass Monkey bar will be hosting the first UK screening of Kenyan film Ni Sisi tonight at 6:30pm.
Ni Sisi (It Is Us) is the second film produced by S.A.F.E., a Kenyan NGO and UK charity that uses street theatre and community programmes to educate, inspire and deliver social change. Founded by Nick Reding, a British-born actor and filmmaker now living in Nairobi, S.A.F.E.’s work has had a considerable impact in issues such as HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, the importance of clean water, and the futility of tribal and gender based violence.
In an effort to avoid a repeat of the violence that followed the last General Election in Kenya in 2007, Ni Sisi was first produced as a stage play two years ago. Since then, more than 96,000 people have experienced the show and its messages of peace and personal responsibility. The play was adapted to the screen to ensure that people all over Kenya could hear these messages before going to the polls last month. Ni Sisi was released to cinemas across the country in February and broadcast on television the day before the election, and it seems to have worked; despite a contested ballot being taken to the Supreme Court, the people of Kenya have responded to the call for peace.
S.A.F.E.’s first film Ndoto Za Elibidi (Dreams) has so far won ten awards at various international festivals–including Best African Film at the 2011 Festival of African Cinema–and now you have the chance to see the movie that will undoubtedly win several more, and will raise the profile of this important group even further.
As well as the Brass Monkey screening on Sunday, Ni Sisi will also be shown at the home of one of S.A.F.E.’s local supporters on Monday and Tuesday evening at 7:30pm, at 48 St. Alban’s Road in Edinburgh. All three events are free and open to the public, but space will be limited so please RSVP to Francesca Shaw firstname.lastname@example.org stating which event you wish to go along to.
For more information on S.A.F.E. and the work they do, and to make an online donation, visit SAFEKenya.org.
And so to Sunday. Much like the weather outside, Sunday at Bootleg Edinburgh was a day of dark drama with light occasionally breaking through. The highlights for me included Irish short Kara, directed by Traolach O Murchu with a captivating Laura Erangey in the lead. The French film Lapse by Gilles Guerraz had shades of Jason Bourne as an amnesiac discovered his life to be much more complicated and morally dubious than he had imagined, while Edward Andrews’ revenge drama Darker Shade of Green built a fantastic sense of dread as an old man tried to atone for the guilt in his past. My top feature of the day was Brett Harvey’s Weekend Retreat, a tense flick about a husband and wife who go away to try and fix their marriage only to become hostages to a pair of brothers desperate for money.
The light among this darkness was ably supplied by Jim Hickey’s hilarious The Download Horror. Inspired by cult US series Mystery Science Theatre 3000, this flick featured the voices of producers Robin Mitchell and Keith Bradley as Robbo and Dougie, two typical Scottish guys passing comments as they watched the latest movie their pal Big Al had downloaded for them. The source of this merriment was Sacrificed, a film Bradley himself had directed a few years ago but had been ultimately disappointed with. Personally, I really hope these three turn this into a regular series. I can’t wait for the further adventures of Dougie and Robbo and their big bag of crisps.
The final film of the weekend was the latest from Bootleg founder Tom Wilton. Pale Horses is a New York-set tale of friendship, love and loss that manages to be both life-affirming and heartbreaking at the same time. The movie is even more remarkable for the fact that its debut screening was less than fifty days after Tom first put pen to paper on the script. When it comes to the Bootleg spirit of “just get out and do it” filmmaking, it’s clear that Tom Wilton leads by example.
Due to the high quality of submitted films and the three-day time constraint, there were two screening rooms set up in Banshee Labyrinth throughout the whole Bootleg weekend. Unfortunately this meant that I was unable to see all the movies that were playing, but even though my selections were mostly random, I was never disappointed. As fate would have it, I missed several of the festival’s award winning films but hopefully I (and you) will get another chance to catch them in future.
Here’s a list of all the awards from Sunday night’s ceremony:
Best Cinematography (Feature) – Autumn Wanderer
Best Cinematography (Short) – Postcard From 1952
Jeff Goldsmith presents Best Screenplay (Short) – Pro Kopf
Jeff Goldsmith presents Best Screenplay (Feature) – Kenneth
The Masques Agency presents Best Actor Female (Short) – Laura Erangey for Kara
The Masques Agency presents Best Actor Male (Short) – Harry Macqueen for Plastic Love
Best Actor Female (Feature) – Esther Hall for Weekend Retreat
Best Actor Male (Feature) – Duncan Casey for Kenneth
Best Scottish Film – Notes
Distrify presents Best Directer (Short) – Fabrice Bracq for Time 2 Split
Distrify presents Best Director (Feature) – George Kane for Discoverdale
Philip Curran presents Best Film (Short) – Plastic Love
Edinburgh International Film Festival presents Best Film (Feature) – Weekend Retreat
Write Shoot Cut presents the Audience Award (voted for via Twitter) – Discoverdale
After all that, there was only one thing left to do: rock out at the now-traditional karaoke Closing Party. And what happens at the karaoke party stays at the karaoke party.
Bootleg Edinburgh was a huge success, with every film playing to a packed house of appreciative fans. For those of you who missed it, I am reliably informed that Edinburgh is likely to become a regular destination for this travelling festival, so you’ll have no excuse for missing it next time. I’ll see you there.
You can find out more about the Bootleg Film Festival at their official website.