EDINBURGH — William Friedkin’s controversial crime pic “Killer Joe” will open the 66th Edinburgh Film Festival on June 20.
Described as a “shockingly cool and blackly comic noir thriller,” it stars Matthew McConaughy, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon and Thomas Haden Church. Friedkin and some cast will attend the Edinburgh premiere.
It’s a bold statement of intent by Edinburgh’s new artistic director Chris Fujiwara to open his debut festival with a pic that has been given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA for “graphic aberrant content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality.”
“For my first year as artistic director, I intend to deliver a diverse program that will spotlight filmmaking of real artistic distinction,” Fujiwara said. “William Friedkin’s exhilarating, intense and brilliantly crafted film is absolutely in keeping with this ambition.”
Friedkin thanked the fest for “honoring our film with this screening, uncut, of a film the Motion Picture Association of America has expressed a desire to censor.”
Friedkin describe “Killer Joe” as being “about the Good and Evil in everyone … the thin line between the policeman and the criminal.” He also called it “a riff on the Cinderella story, wherein she finds her prince, and he turns out to be a hired killer.”
Hirsch plays a young drug dealer who hires the eponymous hitman (McConaughy) to murder his own mother for her life insurance policy, and offers the sexual services of his sister (Temple) as payment.
Pic, which had its world premiere at Venice, is being released in the U.K. by eOne on June 29.
The Edinburgh fest, which runs June 20 to July 1, previously announced that Disney-Pixar’s “The Brave” will be its closing film.