At the end of my preview piece for last year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, I wrote that “going to Edinburgh feels like going home”. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that later this week I’ll be returning to Auld Reekie to once more throw myself wholeheartedly into this year’s celebration of all things filmic. As ever, I’m looking forward to meeting people, making contacts, and attending industry talks, but perhaps more than ever I’m thirsting over the chance to immerse myself in the films – and this year’s programme does seem especially full of mouth-watering delights. So, what’s got me salivating?
Perhaps the film I’m most looking forward to is Fernando Eimbcke’s minimalist coming-of-age comedy Club Sandwich – and fans of his superb debut Duck Season will know why. True, his 2008 follow-up Lake Tahoe failed to quite strike the same notes of success, but I’m holding out hope that Club Sandwich will be a return to form, and reports from other festivals seem to suggest it is. Prior festival buzz, of course, also surrounds Dietrich Brüggemann’s Berlin prize-winner Stations of the Cross, which receives its UK premiere at the festival – as does Bong Joon-ho’s much-hyped Snowpiercer. And then there’s a triple-bill of films by art-house darling Tsai Ming-liang: Stray Dogs, Journey to the West and a segment of the portmanteau film Letters from the South, which also contains work by Royston Tan, Midi Z, Sun Koh, Tan Chui Mui and Aditya Assarat. As anyone who read my coverage from last year will know, EIFF has a knack for choosing portmanteau films that work, and I’m hoping Letters from the South will be this year’s Centro Histórico – so much so, I’ve even paid for a ticket, something which is never strictly necessary when attending EIFF on a pass.
Another portmanteau has also caught my eye – Cathedrals of Culture, a 165 minute, 3D epic by Karim Aïnouz, Michael Glawogger, Michael Madsen, Robert Redford, Wim Wenders and Margreth Olin, in which the filmmakers ‘allows six iconic and very different buildings to speak for themselves’. Equally enticing is the new film from another old auteur, Ana Arabia by Amos Gitai, which is said to consist of just one continuous shot. That may no longer be a novelty, but it’s still exciting (at least to me!). There will also be plenty of classic cinema on offer in the festival’s retrospective strands, which this year focus on writer/director/producer John McGrath, overlooked German filmmaker Dominik Graf, and Iranian Cinema from 1962-1978.
Leaving aside the bigger names and overlooked classics, a number of smaller contemporary works also sound intriguing – for instance, Charlie Weaver Rolfe’s romantic comedy My Accomplice and Paul Harrill’s Something, Anything, which seems to follow a similar premise to Roberto Rossellini’s classic masterpiece Europe ’51. Of course, EIFF is, as much as anything, a festival of discovery, and it’s very possible that the best cinematic experiences will prove to be the least expected. With so much on offer, it’s impossible to outline everything here – but one thing’s for sure, I’ll report back on my own personal highlights right here on DN all too soon.