This Wednesday, June 17 marks the opening of the 69th Edinburgh International Film Festival, the first edition under new Artistic Director Mark Adams, formerly the chief film critic of Screen International. Over the course of twelve nights, 164 new and retrospective features, including 30 documentaries, will unspool, including several world and UK premieres. The following offers a brief look at some of these:
Nonfiction programming this year has largely been shifted into a new standalone Documentaries or “Doc of the Day” strand rather than mixed in with other sections as it has been in the past. Among the world premieres here are: Michael Ramsdell’s WHEN ELEPHANTS FIGHT, an exploration of the UK’s implication in Congolese blood minerals; David Street’s BATTLE MOUNTAIN: GRAEME OBREE’S STORY (pictured), a portrait of a legendary Scottish cycling champion; Grant McPhee’s BIG GOLD DREAM: SCOTTISH POST-PUNK AND INFILTRATING THE MAINSTREAM, whose somewhat too academic subtitle says it all; Vicky Matthews’ ANDREW CARNEGIE: RAGS TO RICHES, POWER TO PEACE, about the storied philanthropist Scot turned American; and David Nicholas Wilkinson’s THE FIRST FILM, an investigation into the mysteries of a cinema pioneer.
Among the lesser known nonfiction UK premieres at Edinburgh are: Stefan Schwietert’s IMAGINE WAKING UP TOMORROW AND ALL MUSIC HAS DISAPPEARED, about a musician who resists recording his work; Nujoom Alghanem’s NEARBY SKY, about an Emirati woman who challenges conventions by participating in a camel beauty pageant; from the experimental Black Box section, Félix Dufour-Laperrière’s observation of life on a cargo ship, TRANSLATLANTIC; from the Young and the Wild strand, Rosa Rogers and Merieme Addou’s look at young Moroccan circus performers, PIRATES OF SALÉ (pictured); and from the Focus on Mexico, María Dolores Arias Martínez’s portrait of an indigenous leader, ELDEST BROTHER.