LONDON — Edinburgh Intl. Film Festival line-up, which was unveiled by artistic director Chris Fujiwara Wednesday, includes 156 feature films from 47 countries. The festival, which runs from June 18 to 29, will include 11 world premieres, eight international premieres, seven European premieres and 95 U.K. premieres.
Highlights include Anton Corbijn’s “A Most Wanted Man,” starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman; Gia Coppola’s “Palo Alto,” starring James Franco and Emma Roberts; and Abel Ferrara’s “Welcome to New York,” inspired by the case of former IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, starring Gerard Depardieu.
EIFF will also host the world premiere of “Castles in the Sky” from Gillies MacKinnon, the story of the Scottish engineer and developer of radar Robert Watson-Watt (played by Eddie Izzard). The film is one of the contenders for the Michael Powell Award for British films, whose line-up was announced previously. Competitors also include “Set Fire to the Stars,” the debut feature from Andy Goddard, a semi-biographical drama depicting the life of Dylan Thomas and starring Elijah Wood, also screening as a world premiere.
Special Screenings include Anthony Baxter’s “A Dangerous Game,” the follow-up to “You’ve Been Trumped,” exploring American property developer Donald Trump’s incursion into Scotland; and this year’s family gala will be the U.K. premiere of the animated heist adventure “The Nut Job,” featuring the voice talents of Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser and Liam Neeson.
Fujiwara said: “A film festival must keep trying to remain challenging, provocative and responsive, and I believe the program we’re unveiling today shows our success at doing that this year. It’s a diverse and artistically strong program that will delight and surprise our audiences, both old and new, and that will reward those who share our passion for exploring cinema in all its forms.”
The International Feature Film Competition, which highlights filmmaking that is imaginative, innovative and deserving of wider recognition, includes deadpan tragicomedy “The Owners” from Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov; Nils Malmros’ study of the extremes of human tragedy in “Sorrow and Joy”; Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ “To Kill a Man,” a tense and restrained study of a how far a man will go to protect his family; “Ice Poison” by Midi Z, portraying the economic and moral crisis affecting young people in Taiwan; and Dietrich Brueggemann’s emotionally wrenching “Stations of the Cross,” which screens as part of the Focus on Germany.
The International Feature Film Competition line-up also includes the international premiere of relationship drama “X/Y” from actor-director Ryan Piers Williams, starring America Ferrera; Koji Fukada’s “Au Revoir L’ete,” a portrait of a girl of the edge of adulthood; “Han Gong-Ju,” the debut feature from South Korean director Lee Su-Jin; Nathan Silver’s “Uncertain Terms,” set at a home for pregnant teenagers; “Club Sandwich,” a coming-of-age drama from Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke; and “Concrete Clouds,” the directorial debut of Lee Chatametikool.
After a three-year hiatus, this year’s festival will see the return of the award for documentary feature film. The nominees include “Garnet’s Gold” from director Ed Perkins and producer Simon Chinn; “‘Til Madness Do Us Part” from Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing; Samantha Fuller’s tribute to maverick American filmmaker Samuel Fuller in “A Fuller Life”; Davi Pretto’s “Castanha,” a portrait of a 52-year-old cross dresser; and the world premiere of “Life May Be,” a meditation on art and identity from Mark Cousins and Mania Akbari.
Completing the line-up are Farida Pacha’s “My Name Is Salt”; “Chantier A,” an imaginative account on the reshaping of Algeria, directed by Tarek Sami, Karim Loualiche and Lucie Deche; Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s “Manakamana,” which stages a meeting of technology and spiritual belief aboard a Nepalese cable car; Thomas Heise’s look at the everyday lives of inmates and guards at a juvenile prison in Mexico in “Staedtebewohner”; and “My Red Shoes” by Sara Rastegar, a family portrait set against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution.
EIFF’s audience award will return this year. This year the nominees include Jim Mickle’s revenge thriller “Cold in July” with Michael C. Hall and Don Johnson; John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s investigation of the life of a brilliant photographer, “Finding Vivian Maier”; and Jeff Baena’s zombie romantic comedy “Life After Beth,” featuring star turns from Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan and John C. Reilly.
Several Special Screenings take place across the festival, including the world premiere of “Tony Benn: Will & Testament,” directed by Skip Kite, a portrait of the long-time Labour M.P., who died in March, and a retrospective screening of docudrama “Culloden” from Peter Watkins, which portrays the 1746 Battle of Culloden in the Scottish Highlands.
As previously announced, EIFF has teamed up with Empire magazine to host “The Greatest Movie of All Time” as voted for by Empire readers for their 301st issue. The winning film has been revealed as “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” and it will have a rare theatrical screening at the festival on June 25.
EIFF and Empire will also present a series of Hero Hangouts, which will see a variety of celebs interviewed live on stage, including “Cold in July” star Don Johnson; Elijah Wood, in Edinburgh for his starring role in “Set Fire to the Stars”; Noel Clarke, who produced “We Are Monster,” and produced, directed and starred in “The Anomaly”; and Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne, the co-directors of the Closing Gala “We’ll Never Have Paris.”
This year the American Dreams strand has been expanded to highlight the resurgence of American Independent cinema and includes the European Premiere of Craig Johnson’s “The Skeleton Twins,” starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig and a powerhouse performance from Nicolas Cage in “Joe,” directed by David Gordon Green. International premieres include insightful family drama “Hellion,” directed by Kat Candler and featuring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis, and Leah Meyerhoff’s poetic road movie “I Believe in Unicorns.”
Directors’ Showcase presents work from established auteur directors and emerging talents. The selection includes the U.K. premiere of Bong Joon-ho’s futuristic thriller “Snowpiercer,” starring Chris Evans, John Hurt and Tilda Swinton, and the inspired, hand-drawn animation “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?” from Michel Gondry. Also in the Directors’ Showcase are “Cathedrals of Culture,” an expansive 3D project exploring the soul of buildings from six acclaimed filmmakers including Wim Wenders and Robert Redford; and Taiwanese master Tsai Ming-liang’s “Stray Dogs,” allegedly his farewell to cinema.
Wicked and Wild will feature the world premiere of Noel Clarke’s futuristic thriller “The Anomaly,” starring Ian Somerhalder and Brian Cox; Eli Roth’s depraved take on cannibalism in “The Green Inferno”; the nerve-shredding thriller “Let Us Prey” from Brian O’Malley; and Leigh Janiak’s intimate horror “Honeymoon,” starring Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway as newlyweds.
The For the Family strand brings together films from around the world that both children and adults can enjoy, including the international premiere of “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar,” the IMAX film narrated by Morgan Freeman; the tale of one cat’s adventure to save the day in “The House of Magic”; and the family adventure “Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang,” based on a Spanish comic book.
The New Perspectives strand offers a range of work from emerging filmmakers, including Terry McMahon’s gritty drama “Patrick’s Day”; Noh Young-seok’s thriller “Intruders”; and Hisham Zaman’s “Letter to the King,” an ensemble piece about five people who take a day trip from a refugee camp to Oslo. The world premiere of London gangster drama “The Guvnors,” directed by Gabe Turner, features a notable performance from Harley Alexander-Sule, one half of the hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks; and Geethu Mohandas’ “Liar’s Dice” explores an uneasy alliance between a vulnerable young mother and an ex-soldier.
As previously announced, the festival opens with the world premiere of Gerard Johnson’s “Hyena,” and the Closing Gala is the international premiere of “We’ll Never Have Paris,” co-directed by Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne.