Scottish filmmakers come to fore at EIFF

Edinburgh announces homegrown titles and special events.

by Amber Wilkinson

Peter Mullan in Hector and Graeme Obree in Battle Mountain
Peter Mullan in Hector and Graeme Obree in Battle Mountain Photo: Courtesy of EIFF
The Edinburgh International Film Festival - which has already looked to Scotland for its opening and closing night films The Legend Of Barney Thomson and Iona - has announced a number of additional homegrown titles that will screen.

Films screening will include Dr Who star Karen Gillan's directorial short debut Coward - about a girl pressured by a her mother to become a star - and the world premiere of music documentary Big Gold Dream, which celebrates the rise of Scottish post-punk and indie artists from the late 70s to mid-80s. Directed by Grant McPhee (Sarah's Room), the film takes a look at Bob Last and Hilary Morrison’s independent record label Fast Product in the late 1970s, which quickly became the hub for an eclectic group of musicians and will be elligible for the audience award. The festival will host a live gig in conjunction with the screening, including singer/songwriter Vic Godard (Subway Sect), who features in the film.

There will also be a musical performance from Bill Drummond (co-founder of The KLF), following the screening of Stefan Schwietert’s documentary about the maverick artist, Imagine Waking Up Tomorrow And All The Music Has Disappeared, while ex-Marillion frontman Fish will attend the world premiere of Artur Guza’s fly-on-the-wall documentary Polska about the singer who was born Derek Dick.

Swung Photo: Courtesy of EIFF
Mark Adams, EIFF Artistic Director, said: “We are delighted to be presenting so many films with Scottish links at this year’s festival. Not only are we opening and closing with brilliant new local films, but the festival is punctuated with terrific Scottish documentaries, shorts, animation and features.”

On a non-musical note "Flying Scotsman" cyclist Graeme Obree will attend the festival with David Street’s documentary Battle Mountain about Obree's attempt at a human-powered land-speed record in Nevada, while Andrew Carnegie: Rags To Riches, Power To Peace - directed by Vicky Matthews - tracks the tale of the steel magnate who began life in Dunfermline, Fife. The European Premiere of The Closer We Get is an autobiographical story from Scottish director Karen Guthrie about "an apparently ordinary family having to stoically deal with broken dreams and hidden secrets".

Colin Kennedy - who carved an impressive early career as a second unit director on many of David Mackenzie's films and won a BAFTA for his short I Love Luci - will world premiere his Glasgow-set directorial debut feature Swung, about the secret underside of a relationship taken to its emotional and sexual limits. Based on Scottish writer Ewan Morrison’s debut novel of the same name, the film stars Elena Anaya, Owen McDonnell and Elizabeth McGovern.

The festival is also featuring films that are a showcase for Scots acting talent, including the world premiere of Jake Gavin's Hector, which stars Peter Mullan as a homeless pensioner with a tragic past. Elsewhere James Cosmo stars in the world premiere of Pyramid Texts, about a veteran fighter and his life in and out of the ring.

Crying With Laughter cinematographer Martin Radich - who has twice won the short film award at EIFF - will bring the UK premiere of Norfolk, starring Denis Menochet (Inglourious Basterds) as a tough-love father whose strong relationship with his teenage son (Barry Keoghan) is tested when the boy befriends a girl (Goda Lethauskaite). Co-produced by the Scottish Documentary Institute, the film receives its UK Premiere at the Festival. Hector, Swung, Norfolk and Pyramid Texts are all contenders for The Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film and Best Performance in a British Feature Film.

Denis Menochet and Barry Keoghan in Norfolk
Denis Menochet and Barry Keoghan in Norfolk Photo: Courtesy of EIFF
Scottish locations also feature widely in this year’s Programme, including Talulah Riley’s writer/directorial debut feature Scottish Mussel, which receives its world premiere. Described as "an old-fashioned romp", it stars Martin Compston as a Glaswegian chancer who moonlights as an illegal pearl fisher in the Highland streams, but falls for a beautiful English conservationist (played by Riley herself) who is passionate about saving endangered mussels. The film co-stars Rufus Hound, Joe Thomas, boxer "Amazing" Alex Arthur and Harry Enfield, and talent from the film are expected to attend the Festival.

Other Scots shorts including Greg Hemphill's Gasping, starring comic Frankie Boyle and the world premiere of Edinburgh-based director Owen Rixon’s animation Toonocalypse, which sees two Edinburgh students document the seemingly harmless infiltration of Earth by cute little cartoon characters.

Director of film and media at Creative Scotland Natalie Usher said: “We are delighted to see such a large number and variety of projects with a Scottish connection screening throughout the Festival, demonstrating the talent and skills of filmmakers and crew working in Scotland. To have the premieres of films from Scottish directors as the Opening and Closing films in this prestigious programme is tremendous. EIFF is a key event in Scotland's cultural calendar, delivering inspirational, world-class cinema experiences to audiences and providing an excellent platform for emerging and established filmmakers to build their national and international profile. We look forward to an engaging and exciting EIFF 2015.”

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