EIFF puts spotlight on Scots

Festival reveals homegrown titles and stars.

by Amber Wilkinson

Brian Cox will attend a screening of The Carer
Brian Cox will attend a screening of The Carer
The Edinburgh International Film Festival has announced a slew of Scottish titles to be screened at the festival ahead of the full programme being unveiled next week.

The move builds on last year’s decision to open and close the film festival with homegrown films – The Legend Of Barney Thomson and Iona – with this year’s edition again showing support for Scottish talent, having previously announced it will open with the world premiere of Jason Connery’s Tommy’s Honour and close with Gillies Mackinnon’s remake of Whisky Galore!

Neither Wolf Nor Dog
Neither Wolf Nor Dog
Titles include Moon Dogs, which is produced by former EIFF Talent Lab participant Kathy Spiers and directed by Downton Abbey and Outlander helmer Philip John. The film features Scots talent and locations and its website promises “an anarchic, funny, sexy coming-of-age movie, following two teenage step brothers on a road trip across Scotland & the enigmatic girl who comes between them”.

Ayrshire-born theatre-turned-film director Graeme Maley’s debut thriller Pale Star will also feature in the line-up. Shot in Iceland – where Maley has worked extensively – Makar Productions say the film is “About the possessiveness of love. About how that possession peels back to expose power and control until we can see, in its dark heart, not love – no, nothing like love – but murder”.

Aberdonian writer/director Stephen Lewis Simpson also joins the line-up with Neither Wolf Nor Dog, which returns to the Lakota culture he explored in Rez Bomb. Based on the book by Kent Nerburn, it tells the story of a Lakota elder and his closest friend taking a white writer through the heart of Lakota country.

Glasgwegian actor Angus Macfadyen makes his directorial debut with Macbeth Unhinged, which sees him also take on the role of the doomed Scots thane in a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s tragedy, set within the confines of a stretch limousine and which had its world premiere at Little Washington film festival in Virginia last month.

Angus Macfadyen in Macbeth Unhinged
Angus Macfadyen in Macbeth Unhinged
Shot on a budget of just over £400,000, he told Virginia’s Rappahannock News: “I’m very pleased with it — considering we shot it in 11 days. I think it’s pretty darn good.”

In the documentary department, Mike Day’s The Islands And The Whales, which focuses on the relationships between the marine mammals and the Faroe Islanders, will have its UK premiere. The film began when he met Faorese sailors while shooting The Guga Hunters Of Ness.

Day said: "I wanted to explore beyond the blood-red bays, and I found a story that affects us all. These faraway islands provide a stark warning. Our seas are polluted by industrial contaminants that can harm us all. There are solutions to these issues, and we hope this film highlights the consequences of living out of harmony with the natural world.”

Niall McCann’s documentary Lost In France, charting the rise and success of Glasgow-based independent record label Chemical Underground will also have its world premiere and play a part in Sound + Vision, a two-day film and music event that will take place at Summerhall, as part of Film Fest in the City, over the first weekend of the festival.

Edinburgh-based filmmaker Icíar Bollaín will bring also bring her new feature The Olive tree, written by her partner Scottish screenwriter Paul Laverty, and about a young girl with emotional problems and her relationship with her grandad, to the festival.

There will also be plenty of talent on screen, with Game Of Thrones and Honeymoon star Rose Leslie appearing in comic family drama Sticky Notes, the directorial debut of Amanda Sharp, while Dundonian Bian Cox will be in attendance for a screening of János Edelényi’s The Carer and western Foresaken, directed by TV-turned-film director Jon Cassar, which co-stars Donald and Kiefer Sutherland.

The Islands And The Whales
The Islands And The Whales
Dougray Scott appears in the apocalyptic thriller The Resort, the latest feature from director Steve Barker who’s previous films, Outpost and Outpost: The Black Sun, were filmed in Scotland.

Artistic director Mark Adams said: “We are delighted to once again cast the spotlight on great Scottish talent at this year’s festival. It speaks so much about the breadth and variety of filmmakers, craftspeople and performers that our selection of projects featuring local talent shines so brightly.”

Other Scottish names in the programme, include artist-filmmaker Henry Coombs, who returns to the festival with his debut feature Seat In Shadow, while retro screenings of Trainspotting and the restored Highlander also joining the line-up.

This year’s Scottish Documentary Institute’s Bridging the Gap series will focus on the theme of Women. Audiences will have the opportunity to watch Lucie Rachel’s Where We Are Now, Lindsay Brown’s Swan, Wilma Smith’s The Review and Natalia Kouneli’s Silent Laughs. The rest of the Shorts Programme also features a number of Scottish titles, including Strawberry And Vanilla, by Tracey Fearnehough and Holger Mohaupt; Transit Zone by Frederik Subei; and eight shorts from the Scottish Film Talent Network – a consortium made up of the festival’s parent body, Centre for the Moving Image, Hopscotch Films and DigiCult. Shorts screening as part of the festival include: Crowman by Duncan Nicoll, Dave by Garry J Marshall and Chris Watson, Grimm Street by Siri Rodnes, No Place Like Home by Cat Bruce, Spores by Richard and Frances Poet, The Rat King by Pavel Shepan, Meet Me By The Watr by Raisah Ahmed, and David Cairns’ The Northleach Horror.

Scottish titles in the animation section include Ross Hogg and Duncan Cowles’ Isabella; and a trio of titles from Edinburgh College of Art students: Illusions by Dominica Harrison, The Last Day from Muqing Shu, and Robert Duncan’s Record/Record.

The festival will run from June 15-26.

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