EIFF to showcase 22 documentaries

Award-winning Man On Wire in programme.

by Amber Wilkinson

Artistic Director Hannah McGill announced has announced the Edinburgh International Film Festival will showcase 22 documentary features this year.

These will include the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award Winner Man On Wire about a tightrope-walkers successful attempt to cross between the World Trade Center's Twin Towers.

Also screening is fellow Sundance favourite Chris Waitt's A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures – a comical documentation of the filmmakers quest to find out where he is going wrong in love by interviewing his ex-girlfriends - and Errol Morris’ Berlin International Film Festival Jury Grand Prix winner, Standard Operating Procedure.

Oscar-winning director Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog Of War) is also expected to be present at the Festival for the screening of his film, which will be showing in the Gala section. Morris’ documentary examines the incidents of abuse and torture of suspected terrorists at the hands of US forces at the Abu Ghraib prison.

The Document Section showcases 19 films, all of which, along with the three Gala titles will be eligible for Best Documentary Feature - an award which recognises a singular and compelling achievement in non-fiction filmmaking,

It is hoped that Errol Morris’ long time friend and associate, Werner Herzog, will be in Edinburgh for the UK premiere of his film Encounters At The End Of The World which will be showing in the Document Section at the Festival.

Erik Nelson, producer on Herzog’s Antartica documentary, will have two films in the Festival, the second being his feature film directorial debut, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, which explores the life and work of science fiction writer Harlan Ellison (The Outer Limits, Star Trek). Ellison is expected to attend the event.

Another of Herzog’s regular collaborators, German actor Klaus Kinski, is the subject of Jesus Chris Saviour directed by Peter Geyer. The film is a long-lost record of a 1971 theatrical monologue that became an endurance test for the actor, who was faced with an audience wanting a discussion, rather than a sermon.

The section includes a selection of films from 11 different countries. In addition to Peter Geyer’s film, Germany is also represented by Alone In Four Walls, by Alexandra Westmeier. Scandinavian offerings include Danish director Phie Ambo’s Mechanical Love and Paradise, by Swedish director Jerzy Sladkowski.

Sweden provides the backdrop for British filmmakers Robert Cannan and Corinna Villari-McFarlane’s Three Miles North Of Molkom, a quirky rollercoaster ride through the experiences of the participants at a spiritual festival in Sweden.

Other titles from the UK which will feature in the Document Section, include Neasa Ni Chianain’s Fairytale Of Kathmandhu, a UK and Ireland co-production; We Went To Wonderland, a China and UK co-production directed by Xiaolu Guo; and Gideon Koppel’s Wales-set Sleep Furiously, which will be having its World Premiere at the EIFF.

Nine of the documentary features originate from the United States. These include Daniel O’Connor and Neil Ortenberg’s Obscene which chronicles the life and times of publisher Barney Rosset, who has battled censorship and hypocrisy at every turn; Ron Davis and Stewart Halpern’s Pageant which follows five male contestants competing in the Miss Gay America Pageant; Margaret Brown’s The Order Of Myths which examines the culture of the community of Mobile, Alabama, whose existing segregation is symbolised by two annual Mardi Gras parades – one organized by the city’s white families and one by the black community; and C Karim Chrobog’s War Child, the story of a rising hip hop star, who as a child was taken from his family and forced to fight in the Sudanese civil war. Argentina has Miguel Kohan’s Cafe De Los Maestros, a film about the origins of Tango, executive produced by Walter Salles.

There is a strong female presence in the subject matter of the line-up, with Israeli director Tamar Yarom’s To See If I'm Smiling, the story of women who served in the occupied territories; Louise Hogarth’s Angels In The Dust, a film telling the inspiring story of Marion Cloete, who fearlessly walked away from a privileged life in a wealthy Johannesburg suburb to establish Boikarabelo, a village and school providing shelter, food, and education to orphaned South African children; and David Schisgall’s Very Young Girls which examines the issue of child prostitution in the United States. The Art Star And The Sudanese Twins, directed by Pietra Brettkelly, is New Zealand ’s offering which follows performance artist Vanessa Beecroft on a mission to adopt two Third World children.

Hannah McGill said: "The scope and quality of the documentaries we have viewed this year is incredibly impressive. It was very hard to whittle them back to this list, so these are the best of the best.

"We have films that home in very close to personal issues; films that draw attention to critical world issues; and films that opt to emphasise the humour or spectacle or music in their stories.

"It's an incredibly diverse array of work from a set of extremely talented filmmakers - the new as well as the known. To present celebrated experts in their field alongside less familiar names is precisely what we strive for throughout the Festival."

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