Alice Englert and Walton Goggins in Them That Follow by Britt Poulton and Daniel Savage | photo by Julius Chiu
Alice Englert and Walton Goggins in Them That Follow by Britt Poulton and Daniel Savage | photo by Julius Chiu

The 2019 Edinburgh International Film Festival, taking place June 19th to 30th, will screen around 121 new features, including 18 feature film World Premieres, alongside a tribute to French filmmaker Agnes Varda.

Bookended by the Boyz in the Wood and the World Premiere of Mrs Lowry & Son, the Festival will screen UglyDolls as this year’s Family Gala, and the People’s Gala screening of Jamie Adams’ Balance, Not Symmetry.

Other highlights include In Person events, with guests including Danny Boyle, award-winning actor and producer Jack Lowden, British documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield and Scottish writer, director and actor Pollyanna McIntosh, who also brings her latest film, Darlin’ to this year’s EIFF. There will also be a very special In Person featuring award-winning film producer Rebecca O’Brien in conversation with acclaimed director, actor, writer and producer Icíar Bollaín.

Bittersweet Symphony
Bittersweet Symphony

This year’s BEST OF BRITISH strand includes exclusive World Premieres of Bittersweet Symphony starring Suki Waterhouse as a woman whose Hollywood dreams are on the verge of becoming a reality; a love letter to Europe in The Black Forest from writer-director Ruth Platt; coming-of-age supernatural love story Carmilla from director Emily Harris; new British drama by first-time feature director, poet, actor and publisher Greta Bellamacina, Hurt by Paradise; Masters of Love, a smart and wry take on the classic British rom-com from debut feature film-maker Matt Roberts;  Schemers, based on writer-producer David McLean’s early years in the music business and the atmospheric noir thriller Strange But True starring Blythe Danner, Brian Cox and Greg Kinnear.

Additionally, there is a clash of old and new worlds seen through the eyes of a Cornish fisherman in Mark Jenkin’s Bait; the directorial debut of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, real-life story, Farming; William McGregor’s debut feature, the magnificent, moody and mysterious Gothic tale Gwen; Joanna Hogg’s autobiographical feature The Souvenir and fun and frothy modern day rom-com, Love Type D. Audiences can also look forward to a screening of Danny Boyle’s Yesterday featuring an all-star cast including Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran and Kate McKinnon.

Films in consideration for the prestigious Michael Powell Award will be selected from the BEST OF BRITISH and GALA sections.

THE DEAD DON'T DIE
THE DEAD DON’T DIE

This year the AMERICAN DREAMS strand will offer an audiences an exciting, challenging and provocative group of films from across the pond featuring some of the brightest and best global talent. The strand will include: the World Premiere of Liberté: A Call to Spy, a fascinating story of a real life sisterhood of spies and the International Premieres of the clever and deviously dark mystery I See You starring Helen Hunt; Andrew Patterson’s sci-fi mystery feature debut The Vast of Night; indie film Justine, which explores the role of a single mother working as a caregiver to a girl with spina bifida and the previously announced comedy drama Go Back to China directed by Emily Ting. Them That Follow, staring Olivia Colman, about an Appalachian sect will receive its European Premiere at the Festival as will Ode to Joy, an unusual rom-com about a man who avoids joy starring Martin Freeman and The Sound of Silence starring Peter Sarsgaard and Rashida Jones. Skin, based on the true story of neo-Nazi Bryon Widner starring Jamie Bell will screen alongside the Cannes 2019 opener, Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die; comedy drama Driven, about the car designer John DeLorean and Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli’s quietly radical film, So Pretty.

A Girl from Mogadishu
A Girl from Mogadishu

The EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVES strand celebrates the rich cultural impact and importance of European cinema. Notable features include: Elfar Adalsteins’ End of Sentence where a bickering father and son from America take a road trip in Ireland; the International Premieres of writer-director Mary McGuckian’s powerful new film A Girl from Mogadishu that tells the inspiring true story of Ifrah Ahmed, a Somalian refugee and She’s Missing from Irish writer-director Alexandra McGuinness. The Emperor of Paris starring Vincent Cassel will receive its UK Premiere at the Festival alongside Rudolph Herzog’s hilariously funny How to Fake a War starring Katherine Parkinson and Aniara, an epic science-fiction drama about a passenger spaceship lost in the void, as well as titles including Barbara Vekarić’s Aleksi from Croatia; Susanne Heinrich’s Aren’t You Happy? from Germany and Swiss psychological drama Cronofobia. Audiences can also look forward to the return of France’s favorite Gaul in Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion.

 This year’s WORLD PERSPECTIVES strand offers audiences an exciting and challenging array of new works by talented filmmakers from around the world. Highlights include: the World Premieres of Astronaut, starring Richard Dreyfuss as a lonely widower who dreams of a trip to space and Rodrigo Guerrero’s Venezia. Australian cinema features prominently this year with the acclaimed Acute Misfortune, a striking, brilliant and unconventional portrait of one of Australia’s most acclaimed and idiosyncratic painters, Adam Cullen; The Flip Side, a breezy rom-com about a budding chef and a British actor starring Eddie Izzard; Undertow, a tense and moving female-led drama from director Miranda Nation and Top End Wedding, a rom-com about family ties and contrasting cultures. Other highlights include two South Korean action-adventure masterclasses in the form of Unstoppable and box office smash Extreme Job.

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love

This year’s DOCUMENTARIES program reflects the ability of documentary film to amaze, inspire, challenge, provoke and fascinate audiences, offering them the unique chance to travel the world and see strange and unusual sights. Strand highlights include: Memory: The Origins of Alien, a fascinating documentary about the making of Alien from the very beginning; This Changes Everything which examines the problems faced by women filmmakers and features interviews with Hollywood greats including Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Taraji P. Henson, Reese Witherspoon and Cate Blanchett; Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk narrated by former caddie Bill Murray and Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, from Nick Broomfield, giving audiences an insight into Leonard Cohen’s love affair with Marianne Ihlen.

In addition this year, the Scottish Documentary Institute will celebrate the art of documentary filmmaking through the lens of international female directors in a strand entitled PHENOMENAL WOMEN. They include work from Camille Budin, Maja Borg, Elizabeth Mirzaei, Gulistan Mirzaei and Sara Isha. Two shorts programs will also screen entitled Celebrating 15 years of Bridging the Gap and Syrian Stories, Female Voices. 

Ranging from bloodthirsty gore through to ecozombies, this year’s NIGHT MOVES strand serves up a wide variety of pulse-pounding genre titles sure to delight audiences. This year, women take the front seat with a double bill of Pollyanna McIntosh in The Woman and Darlin’; The Furies, a gripping modern take on the 1980s slasher film, full of gore; Roxanne Benjamin’s Body at Brighton Rock; Carolina Hellsgård’s Ever After and Emma Tammi’s The Wind, a breathtakingly beautiful and haunting moody tale.

Cages directed by Nicolás Pacheco
Cages directed by Nicolás Pacheco

This year’s retrospective strand entitled ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPAIN, will explore Spain’s rich cinematic history through three strands: A Retrospective Celebration of Modern Spanish Cinema; A Retrospective Selection of Cult Spanish Cinema and an in-depth celebration of the work of legendary Spanish writer, actor and filmmaker, Icíar Bollaín. Designed to begin where the retrospective ends, FOCUS ON SPAIN features a selection of brand new Spanish cinema by some of the country’s most promising directors. Highlights include: Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles from Salvador Simó, an accomplished and fitting homage to the great master of surrealist cinema; Cages the directorial debut from Nicolás Pacheco, and gripping sci-fi thriller h0us3 from Manolo Munguía, inspired by the mysterious ‘insurance files’ famously employed by Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Two Spanish shorts programs will also feature as part of the strand: Shorts from Galicia and Spotlight on Contemporary Spanish Short Films, a thematically diverse range of films that filter their narratives through cultural and societal lenses. 

EIFF will this year present its inaugural strand of special culinary screenings and events, bridging the gap between food and film in CINECUISINE: a celebration of Scottish cuisine and the connections with our friends in Spain. The strand features fascinating documentaries spanning the culture and heritage of Scotland’s most well-known export, whisky, in The Amber Light and an exploration of Scotland’s cuisine by Spain’s Michelin starred chefs the Roca brothers in Chef’s Diaries: Scotland. 

Varda by Agnès
Varda by Agnès

The Festival will screen a number of films by the late great Agnès Varda across a retrospective strand entitled THE FEATURES OF AGNÈS, as well as Varda by Agnès, her final film which will be introduced by Honorary Patron Mark Cousins.

The world of experimental film is once again uncovered in the Festival’s ever-popular BLACK BOX strand which presents a selection of short and feature-length experimental and artists’ films from around the world. Films in the strand include: Philip Hoffman’s Vulture, an observational study of farm life and Home in E Major, a deeply personal and quietly poetic documentary about displacement, friendship and the importance of home as well as a number of shorts program including Politics of Place, which explore the relationship between humans, nature and technology.

This year’s SHORTS section will offer a thrilling showcase of the finest brand-new short films from across the globe including Haunting the Image, which will explore the medium of film as a conductor through which to capture and evoke episodes of ritual and transfiguration; Film Is Resistance, which suggests that film can be an act of potent political resistance, offering ideological provocations and Image Is Memory, which explores the moving image as a powerful marker of memory. EIFF Youth Shorts: Exploring Boundaries will also return with seven stories from around the globe which explore the fascinating world of human relationships.

Imogen Poots (left) as "Anna" and Jesse Eisenberg (right) as “Casey” in writer/director Riley Stearn’s THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE, a Bleecker Street release. Credit: Bleecker Street
Imogen Poots (left) as “Anna” and Jesse Eisenberg (right) as “Casey” in writer/director Riley Stearn’s THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE, a Bleecker Street release. Credit: Bleecker Street

The Festival’s EIFF Youth strand will offer an array of cutting-edge film screenings, special events, talks and masterclasses for young audiences at this year’s Festival. Films include: the opening night film Boyz in the Wood; The Art of Self-Defense, starring Jesse Eisenberg as a mild-mannered accountant who learns karate and Bulbul Can Sing, an adolescent girl’s coming-of-age story in a small Indian village.

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