EIFF 2019: Preview

The world’s longest continually running film festival, the EIFF is back for its 73rd edition with its usual mix of lively movies, guest appearances and panel events. In keeping with its recent efforts to showcase local talent, the festival opens with Boyz In The Wood, a raucous comedy about four lads participating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme who get lost in the Scottish Highlands. Written and directed by first-timer Ninian Doff, it stars newcomers Rian Gordon, Lewis Gribben, Viraj Juneja and Samuel Bottomley.

Also in the Best of British strand is Emily Harris’ Carmilla, which receives its world premiere at the festival. Inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic Gothic vampire novella, rising star Hannah Rae plays Lara, whose life is upturned when an enigmatic young girl named Carmilla (Devrim Lingnau) comes to stay with her family. With a supporting cast including Greg Wise and Tobias Menzies – not to mention a score by Radiohead’s drummer Phil Selway – this will surely be one to watch.

There’s also a chance to catch Farming, the directorial debut from British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (who was so brilliant as Mr. Eko in Lost). Featuring Kate Beckinsale and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, this tale is inspired by his own childhood, telling of a young Nigerian boy who arrives in Britain, “farmed” out to a white British family by his parents in the hope their son will gain a brighter future – only to see him join a skinhead gang. 

Still from Farming.

In the American Dreams strand, there are some fine films being unveiled including Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die, which receives its UK premiere before its release next month. Meanwhile, Michael Tyburski’s The Sound of Silence receives its European premiere. Peter Sarsgaard plays a “house tuner” – a person who specialises in reducing the noise pollution that every home suffers from – in this very offbeat drama. Rashida Jones co-stars in a film that made its world bow at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to ecstatic reviews.

The festival has always programmed some excellent in person events, and this year is no different, with British director Danny Boyle taking to the stage – just days before his new film Yesterday, which also plays at the festival, hits screens in the UK. There will also be a chance to hear documentary director Nick Broomfield speak about a career that’s included Kurt and Courtney and Aileen Wuornos: Selling of a Serial Killer. He also brings his latest film Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love, about musician Leonard Cohen’s relationship with his muse.

With a special focus on Spanish cinema this year, the festival is devoting three separate strands to work from the region. A program of contemporary Spanish Cinema will include a screening of Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In; the Cult section features Nacho Vigalondo’s excellent Timecrimes; and then Icíar Bollaín receives a long-overdue tribute to her work, including Even the Rain and Take My Eyes. Bollaín will also participate in an on-stage discussion with producer Rebecca O’Brien, a regular collaborator with Bollaín’s husband, Scottish screenwriter Paul Laverty.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival runs from 19 June to 30 June. For more details, visit here.

James Mottram

1. Still from