Streaming and Screening Spotlight: Edinburgh Film Festival Highlights

Six of the best at the fest

by Amber Wilkinson

Mandibles
Mandibles

After a year's hiatus due to the pandemic, Edinburgh International Film Festival returns to its August this week, with a hybrid edition, opening with Nicolas Cage's Pig tonight. With many of the films available to watch via the Filmhouse At Home streaming service wherever you are in the UK, here's six of the best films screening, plus a couple of shorts.

Mandibles

What better way to generate some buzz about a film than make it about a giant fly? Although director Quentin Dupieux's back catalogue - involving a murderous tyre (Rubber) and a man who takes the idea of killer style literally (Deerskin) plus the presence of a thigh-high fly might make this sound like a horror film it is, in fact, a surprisingly charming absurd comedy. French comedians Grégoire Ludig and David Marsais co-star as a pair of amiable goofballs, who hatch a harebrained heist plan after finding the fly - who they name Dominique - in a carboot. Expect the unexpected as comic complications ensue and look out for the normally more seriously cast Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) as she shouts out her ability to turn her hand at comedy loud and clear. Screening: Saturday, August 21 at 9.40pm and Monday, August 23 at 6pm, at Edinburgh Filmhouse

Annette

Marion Cotillard in Annette, a musical directed by Leos Carax
Marion Cotillard in Annette, a musical directed by Leos Carax Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
Anne-Katrin Titze writes: The story of Annette is simple enough. Ann, played with grace and strength by Marion Cotillard, is an opera star whose specialty is dying on stage. She loves Henry (Adam Driver), a successful stand-up comedian, who chose the stage name the Ape of God, and performs as if he were a boxer, hurling insults at the public. Based on an original story and music by Sparks, lyrics by Ron Mael, Russel Mael, and Leos Carax, with the majority of dialogue sung by the stars, this musical of love and self-hatred begins with the voice of the director asking for our complete attention and telling us about a few things we better do solely in our heads. The Brechtian quality of the songs’ lyrics is present throughout. People express who they are and what they feel more directly than one usually encounters in cinema and in life. When Ann and Henry have a baby, the title character, who has very special powers, things take an altogether different turn. Leave it to Carax to embed the deepest emotions into the greatest artifice. Simon Helberg, as the accompanist, to be conductor and babysitter for Annette, is in the classic tradition of the comedic musical sidekick. Read what Cotillard and Carax said about the film in Cannes. Screening: Saturday, August 21 at 6.15pm and 6.35pm at Edinburgh Filmhouse

Ninjababy

Ninjababy
Ninjababy
This enjoyably offbeat Norwegian comedy drama uses animation to accentuate the emotional experience of the hard partying Rakel (Kristine Kujath Thorp, who has the look of a young Andrea Riseborough and the acting ability to match), after she discovers she is seven-and-a-half months pregnant. As she starts to have conversations with her stealthy unborn ninjababy, she is also trying to decide what to do after the child is born and negotiating relationships with the father (Arthur Berning) and a sweet aikido instructor (Nader Khademi). Director Yngvild Sve Flikke steps lightly up from television work to films - even if she is a little too wedded to montage - to craft a sweetly unpredictable film that is funny, romantic and poignant in all the right places. Screening on Filmhouse At Home from 3pm on Friday for 72 hours, plus at Filmhouse on Friday, August 20 at 1.15pm and Saturday, August 21 and 10pm.

The Bright Side

The Bright Side
The Bright Side
This spirited and spiritual descendant of the likes of Calendar Girls sees a jaded stand-up with mental health issues find her world rocked by an unexpected breast cancer diagnosis. Unsure about whether she wouldn't rather just embrace death, she finds herself thrust into an unexpected community as she attends chemotherapy sessions. Although the trajectory of this film is fairly predictable, there are quirky touches, including a spot of fly-fishing, and plenty of sparky humour courtesy of a wide-ranging performance from Gemma-Leah Devereux, who takes the central character of Kate from spiky sure-footedness to anguish and back again. Strong support is provided by Siobhán Cullen as a determined fellow patient and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as an unexpected love interest. Screening on Filmhouse at Home from Thursday, August 19 at 8.10pm and at Filmhouse the same day at 6.30pm and on Friday, August 20 at 9.20pm.

Radiograph Of A Family

Radiograph Of A Family
Radiograph Of A Family Photo: Courtesy of Visions du Reel
Firouzeh Khosrovani's documentary considers the shifting sociopolitical landscape of Iran through the experiences of her own family blending a mixture of family archive, with her own observations about the situation with re-enactments. Khosrovani's mother and father represent to radically different facets of Iran - her mum young and devoutly Muslim, her dad much older and secular in his views. These differences caused internal tensions within the family home and make this film intensely personal but Khosrovani also finds a more universal resonance as she shows the situation reflected more broadly within society and charts the shifting power balance both at the dinner table and on the street. Screening on Filmhouse at Home from Monday, August 23 at 7.45pm for 72 hours and at Filmhouse on Monday, August 23 at 6.20pm

The Man Who Sold His Skin

The Man Who Sold His Skin
The Man Who Sold His Skin
Deservedly short-listed for Best International Feature at this year's Oscars, Kaouther Ben Hania's drama considers both refugee status and commodification, shot through with a love story. At its heart is Sam Ali (Yahya Mahayni), who makes a deal with an artist (the Mephistophelean Koen de Bouw) to have a Schengen travel visa tattooed on his back. The result does indeed open international travel doors for him - of particular interest as he is desperate to follow his long-time love Abeer (Dia Leane) to Belgium, where she has been married off. However it also brings trouble as Sam gradually realises just what he has let himself in for. Nothing is simple in Hania's drama, as multiple deals with the devil come to the fore, and nobody is completely let off the hook. Beyond the gripping nature of the drama the film is shot with a fluid grace - matched by Mahayni's balletic performance. Read what the director told us about the film. Screening at Filmhouse on Sunday, August 22 at 6.30pm and on Tuesday  August 24 at 9pm.

There are several shorts showcases screening at this year's festival, including animation and the experimental Black Box. Be sure to check out Danielle Swindells documentary Stop Nineteen that considers the troubling tourism that has emerged from The Troubles and  Laura Carreira's drama The Shift, which packs a lot of social commentary into one woman's trip to the supermarket. Both shorts are streaming as part of Short Cuts: Views From The Four Nations, which is available to watch on Filmhouse at Home on Sunday, August 22 from 4pm and at Filmhouse on the same day at 4pm

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