Beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, June 19 and running through Sunday, June 30, the Edinburgh International Film Festival takes over Scotland’s capital city for its 67th edition. It’s the event’s second year under the stewardship of Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara. After the departure of the popular Hannah McGill in 2010, who had led the festival since 2006, Edinburgh suffered a critical lashing for a couple of editions presented without an artistic director until Fujiwara took over last year to set the ship aright. Out of the nearly 150 films screening this year, approximately 40 are documentary features or hybrids. Some highlights are included below:
The festival’s main doc strand, New Realities, features more than a dozen new titles, including: Massimo D’Anolfi and Martina Parenti’s DARK MATTER, a juxtaposition of an Italian military rocket base and the natural landscape around it; Thomas Heise’s CONSEQUENCE, an observational study of a small town crematorium; Khlaed Jarrar’s INFILTRATORS, an immersive look of Palestinians trying to scale the Israeli West Bank barrier wall; Pary El-Qalqili’s THE TURTLE’S RAGE, a personal film about the director’s father, who left his family in Berlin to return to Palestine; Niko Apel’s A PLAY FOR FREEDOM (pictured), about censorship of a touring theatre project in Tehran; and James Erskine and Zara Hayes’ THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES, revisiting the legendary Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs tennis match.
The Films on Film strand offers half a dozen docs on filmmaking and filmmakers, including David Cairns and Paul Duane’s NATAN, a reconsideration of the largely forgotten Bernard Natan, who once owned Pathé; and Mark Cousins’ A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM, an essay on the ways children have been represented in cinema. Auteur cinema is the focus of Directors’ Showcase, with new docs including: Thomas Riedelsheimer’s BREATHING EARTH: SUSUMU SHINGU’S DREAM, about the artist’s vision of wind-powered architecture; Avi Mograbi’s ONCE I ENTERED A GARDEN, a personal reflection on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict through a conversation between old friends; and Dervis Zaim’s hybrid CYCLE (pictured), centered around an Anatolian sheep-washing competition.
EIFF’s World Perspectives section features two additional hybrids, Gutierrez Mangansakan II’s THE OBSCURED HISTORIES AND SILENT LONGINGS OF DAGULUAN’S CHILDREN (pictured), a portrait of modernity encroaching on an isolated traditional Filipino village; and Alex Pitstra’s DIE WELT, about life in post-revolutionary Tunisia. Experimental fare has a home in the Black Box strand, which includes: Telemach Wiesinger’s 10, a city symphony; and Bernadette Weigel’s FAIR WIND – NOTES OF A TRAVELLER, a meditative travelogue through Eastern Europe.
Wrapping up, Special Screenings features the world premiere of Anthony Wanke’s FIRE IN THE NIGHT, a look back at a devastating 1988 North Sea oil rig disaster; Focus on Korea includes Lee Hyun-jung’s hybrid VIRGIN FOREST (pictured), a consideration of memory, death, and family; and Focus on Sweden presents Mia Engberg’s BELLEVILLE BABY, in which the filmmaker unexpectedly hears from a criminal ex, precipitating memories of a different life.