British pics show sharp ‘Edge’

12 out of 15 EIFF entries hail from U.K.

The British contingent will be out in greater force than ever at this year’s EIFF, supplying 12 out of the fest’s 15 world premieres, plus another dozen films getting their first home outing.

The Cannes programmers did Edinburgh a huge favor by passing over John Maybury’s “The Edge of Love,” leaving the Scottish capital to host the world bow of this period romance about the tangled love life of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

With Keira Knightley (whose Scottish mother Sharman Macdonald wrote the script) and Sienna Miller sashaying up the red carpet, the fest will enjoy its glitziest opening in years. Whether the Knightley/Miller combo will be enough to grab the next day’s front pages ahead of Will Smith, opening “Hancock” in London on the same night, will be a big test of the fest’s ability to deliver impact for distributors.

The EIFF is surfing the new wave of microbudget filmmaking. Fest topper Hannah McGill believes “Helen,” by co-writers/ directors Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor, about a woman who is psychologically affected when she plays a missing girl in a police reconstruction TV show, could be the U.K. discovery of the year. “It came out of nowhere,” she says — one of hundreds of films submitted unsolicited by filmmakers.

There will be much interest too in “Crack Willow,” the feature debut of Martin Radich, which moves from social realism to something more deranged, as a man’s life caring for his elderly father fractures into madness. It was the first project backed by Lenny Crooks when he took charge of the U.K. Film Council’s New Cinema Fund.

Edinburgh will offer an opportunity to judge what Crooks has achieved in his first couple of years. He also backed another Edinburgh world preem, “Summer,” by Scottish helmer Kenny Glenaan; “Better Things” by Duane Hopkins, which comes to Edinburgh after bowing in the Critics’ Week at Cannes; and two pics from digital studio Warp X, “Donkey Punch” and “A Complete History of My Sexual Failures,” both of which premiered at Sundance.

Among other world premieres is “Mum and Dad,” the first project to emerge from Film London’s new Microwave scheme; and “Trouble Sleeping,” a first feature from Edinburgh’s Theater Workshop in collaboration with a community group of Arab immigrants.

Two established auteurs, Terence Davies and Shane Meadows, will be on hand to present their latest works, “Of Time and the City” and “Somers Town,” which premiered in Cannes and Berlin, respectively. Bernard Rose will also unveil the world preem of “The Kreutzer Sonata.”

The fest closes with a light British comedy, Vito Rocco’s debut “Faintheart,” billed as the first MySpace movie. Users of the social networking website chose the director in a competition, and then had input into creative decisions by co-producers Vertigo, Film4, Slingshot and the UKFC’s Premiere Fund.

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