The 73rd Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) kicked off with the European Premiere of Ninian Doff’s Boyz in the Wood and wrapped up with the world premiere of Adrian Noble’s Mrs Lowry & Son.
With an array of both feature films and short films from female directors, the festival came closer to its goal of a 50/50 split of male and female filmmakers, while also showcasing an impressive mixture of genre cinema.
EIFF had another successful year. This list covers the top five very best films that the festival had to offer and what to keep an eye out for in future.
Ruben Brandt, Collector (dir. Milorad Krstic)
In the past, EIFF’s representation of animated films has been middling at best, but this year’s line up of animated films (old and new, features and shorts), has shown that it’s taking the right steps to rectify this.
The crowning jewel being Hungarian animation, Ruben Brandt, Collector from first-time director, Milorad Krstic who shows that he’s a hot commodity straight out of the gate.
The film follows Ruben Brandt and his merry band of thieves on a globetrotting mission to collect (steal) some of the world’s most famous pieces of art.
Krstic uses this exact art as inspiration for the film’s unique style of animation, all the while mixing together multiple genres of cinema to create a beautifully thrilling addition to animated cinema.
Scheme Birds (dir. Ellen Fiske, Ellinor Hallin)
Birthed by a drug addict mother and a runaway father, Gemma’s birth coincided with the closure of the local steel plant. Supplying a majority of jobs in Motherwell, the steel plant closure caused a nosedive in Motherwell’s economy. Gemma’s life was practically taken from her before it had begun.
Scheme Birds is a documentary which shows now teenage Gemma living life in her scheme, where all she can hope for is to be ‘locked up or knocked up.’
Showing the everyday life for Gemma, Scheme Birds reveals the grim reality in the most beautifully poignant and sometimes truly shocking, way.
The Souvenir (dir. Joanna Hogg)
The Souvenir follows young film student, Julie who becomes romantically involved with a charming (yet untrustworthy) older man.
At just two hours long, it’s not the longest film, but it does require a lot of patience. Hogg uses long shots and holds onto each shot for an extended time, similar to the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, to create glacial pacing that works perfectly in correlation to the story.
Perhaps one of the most impressive things about The Souvenir is lead actress, Honor Swinton Byrne. It’s her first real acting job (she appeared in Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love in a very small role) and it’s incredible just how good her performance is. It appears as though she were a seasoned actor, crafting an extraordinarily relatable and lovable character in Julie.
Being the daughter of Tilda Swinton, it seems as though acting is quite literally in her blood. Joanna Hogg has crafted something beautiful, and with production having already started on the sequel, excitement is in the air to see what will happen in the next chapter of Julie’s life.
Never Look Away (dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
Never Look Away chronicles the life of young German Artist Kurt Barnet (the character and story are inspired by the life of Gerhard Richter) over four decades, beginning in the 30s and ending in the 60s.
At a runtime of three hours and eight minutes, the film is somewhat of an epic. It has its downsides as the runtime may put some people off. However, the story is so grand in execution that it needs every single second of its runtime, and frankly, it’s one of the rare occasions where it wouldn’t have dampened the quality of the film if it were longer.
The track record of cinema history shows that a large majority of the greatest films of all time have a longer run time. Films like: Gone With The Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather, and now Never Look Away.
Roma may have been the film on everyone’s lips during awards season, but Never Look Away deserved the exact same anticipation. It’s a beautiful film that will (hopefully) go down as one of the greats.
Boyz In The Wood (dir. Ninian Doff)
Music video director and Edinburgh local, Ninian Doff directs Boyz in the Wood in what is his first attempt at a feature film and what a first attempt it is.
Joining him in this feat are also the four lead characters of the film who put in spectacular performances, coming across as natural and full of charisma (especially Lewis Gribben and Viraj Juneja, who completely steal the show as Duncan and DJ Beatroot, respectively).
Doff takes a pretty standard plot (a group of teenagers get lost in the woods) and makes it completely unique and totally original while paying tribute to some of the greats such as The Shining and Lord of the Rings. There’s also one scene that feels like a comedic recreation of Alec Baldwin’s cameo in Glengarry Glen Ross.
Despite being his first feature, Doff takes the helm like a seasoned veteran, somehow able to take a crazy mix of genres and ideas and make them work together. He’s also great at taking all of the film’s resources and using them to the fullest to make ensure the highest level of quality.
Boyz In The Wood is an incredible film, made even more so by the fact that it’s a debut. When it comes to Scottish cinema, Boyz In The Wood should be up there with the greats.