Edinburgh Film Festival: What to Watch

After years in its June slot, the Edinburgh International Film Festival is back for one week in August, in tandem with the Fringe. Offering up a mix of in-person and online screenings, for those unable to be in Edinburgh, it’s a heady selection of British and international features. ASFF picks five of the fest’s best.


The first ever Tunisian film to be Oscar-nominated, Kaouther Ben Hania’s provocative drama sees a wealthy European artist (Koen De Bouw) fashioned in the Jeff Koons mould convince a Syrian refugee (Yahya Mahayni) to become his latest canvas by tattooing a Schengen visa on his back. Inspired loosely by the work of Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, it’s a fascinating work about the price of freedom.


Jim Cummings made a splash with his 2018 indie Thunder Road, which took the Grand Jury prize at South By Southwest, and now he’s back with The Beta Test, a Hollywood-set thriller fashioned in the #MeToo era. Cummings and PJ McCabe, who co-writes/directs, star in a film that begins as a married agent is enticed by a mysterious letter into an anonymous sexual encounter. Needless to say, it does not end well.


Phil Tippett, the Oscar-winning stop-motion genius who worked on Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers, is the director behind this. Described as a “fully practical stop-motion film set in a Miltonesque world of monsters, mad scientists and war pigs”, it began life back in the 1980s, but was only completed after a KickStarter campaign raised the requisite funds. Expect it to be bonkers.


French director Quentin Dupieux, who has recently seen his excellent Deerskin finally released in the UK, is back with his next film. Mandibles is an utterly bizarre tale about two no-hopers who encounter something – no spoilers here – that changes their lives forever. Blue Is The Warmest Colour‘s Adèle Exarchopoulos co-stars, playing her role at top volume, in what is a brilliant comic odyssey.  


Harri Shanahan and Sîan Williams’ documentary dives back into the 1980s underground London lesbian scene, using a lively mix of archive, animation and fresh interviews. The titular group of friends, who all met at Greenham Common peace camp and went on to become artists, activists and musicians, take centre stage here, as they protest the Thatcher government and advocate AIDS awareness.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival runs out August 25th. Click here for more details.

Words: James Mottram