Edinburgh Film Festival 2009: round-up

0

Comments

Add +

Trevor Johnston spends ten days in the Scottish capital, where the British films weren't so strong but Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine offered light relief with 'Le Donk

Last year all the noise was about the decision to move the Edinburgh International Film Festival from its traditional slot as part of the Scottish capital’s annual August cultural overload to a new stand-alone position in June. Well, the sky didn’t fall in, box office held up well, and it was sighs of relief all round.

This year, the focus was back where it belonged: on the films. Like our own London Film Festival (but on a smaller scale), Edinburgh allows the celluloid junkie advance access to all sorts of delights, but where London’s strength is its intoxicating compendiousness, the Scottish event centres on new British cinema in competition for the annual Michael Powell Award. The UK Film Council-sponsored gong is now firmly established as an annual health check for our homegrown production. The trouble is, when the British films fail to shine, it casts a pall over the rest of the programme. But if the films aren’t out there, what’s the festival’s artistic director, Hannah McGill, to do?

Sadly, 2009 was one of those years. There was a lot of effort on minuscule budgets, but accomplishment was in short supply, so the overall picture was dismaying. That said, there were bright spots, and certainly Liverpool’s Digital Departures scheme, which funded Terence Davies’s ‘Of Time and the City’, showed well thanks to ‘Kicks’, Lindy Heyman’s crisply visualised tale of two Scouse teenage girls who kidnap a star footballer, and Lawrence Gough’s ‘Salvage’, an endearing attempt to replay a George Romero movie in English suburbia.

Two titles, though, stood head and shoulders above the rest. Andrea Arnold’s Cannes Jury Prize winner Fish Tank, a rites-of-passage story on an Essex estate, confirms that here we have a British filmmaker of world stature, who can take the stuff of social realism and turn it to heightened, piercingly expressive ends. Youthful lead Katie Jarvis fully deserved the PPG Award for Best Performance in a British Film, but the fact that ‘Fish Tank’ didn’t take home the Powell Award says a lot for the movie that did. Moon, the first feature by Duncan Jones, represents the sort of intelligent sci-fi you thought you’d never see again. It’s a startling tale of longing and loneliness on a one-man mining operation on the dark side of the moon, whose brilliantly imagined environs recall Kubrick, Tarkovsky and Ridley Scott. A worthy winner.

Elsewhere in the programme, the French stole the show with a triple whammy of ‘The First Day of the Rest of Your Life’ (a spot-on funny-sad contemporary family saga), ‘Mesrine’ (a kickin’ two-part crime epic with Vincent Cassel in swaggering form as France’s most notorious bank robber) and ‘Séraphine’ (the heart-stopping true story of a cleaning woman who painted like Van Gogh). However, the Skillset New Directors Award for best first or second feature headed west to Cary Joji Fukunaga’s debut, Sin Nombre, a vividly mounted yet dramatically clichéd tale of Central American immigrants risking their lives to ride the trains going north to the US border.

For sheer consistency, the documentary section was hard to beat. Michael Whyte’s ‘No Greater Love’ offered a suitably contemplative portrait of convent life in Notting Hill of all places, while the reliably incisive Kirby Dick’s ‘Outrage’ uncovered the sexual hypocrisy of America’s anti-gay legislators, and RJ Cutler wowed everyone with ‘The September Issue’, a look inside American Vogue magazine where editor Anna Wintour rules with frighteningly decisive froideur. Highlights? Well, the world premiere of Shane Meadows’s ‘Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee’, a shot-in-five-days music-biz frolic, was a hoot not only because the film was so much fun but also because Paddy Considine turned up in character as a roadie hoping to make it big.

Mark Cousins’s Bengali retrospective, meanwhile, not only played the works of Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Tapan Sinha (ripe for rediscovery) to packed audiences but brought Ray’s muse, Sharmila Tagore, to town for an interview that was an inspirational demonstration of cinema’s ability to foster cross-cultural understanding. More like this, please, in 2010, when, hopefully, the programmers will have learnt from this year’s event and we won’t have to search quite so long for the diamonds in the rough.

Author: Trevor Johnston



Users say



Top Stories

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.

Oscar predictions

Oscar predictions

The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards

January film highlights 2013

January film highlights 2013

Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow

October film highlights

October film highlights

Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.

Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'

Martin Freeman interview

Martin Freeman interview

'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.

Sam Mendes interview

Sam Mendes interview

Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.

Ang Lee interview

Ang Lee interview

The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'

Michael Haneke interview

Michael Haneke interview

The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.

Read our interview with Michael Haneke

Thomas Vinterberg interview

Thomas Vinterberg interview

The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.

Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.

Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us

On the set of 'Sightseers'

On the set of 'Sightseers'

Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.

Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set

Tim Burton interview

Tim Burton interview

The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.

Read our interview with Tim burton

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.

Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'

What's your film guilty pleasure?

What's your film guilty pleasure?

Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.

Read 'Film guilty pleasures'

When teen stars turn serious

When teen stars turn serious

Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.

Read 'When teen stars turn serious'

50 years of James Bond

50 years of James Bond

From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.

Read '50 years of James Bond'

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.

Read the interview

Hilarious horror films

Hilarious horror films


Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.

Read 'Hilarious horror films'

Martin McDonagh interview

Martin McDonagh interview

The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.

Read the interview

Autumn horror films

Autumn horror films

We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.

Read about this Autumn's best horror movies

On the set of Skyfall

On the set of Skyfall

Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.

Read 'On the set of Skyfall'

Bond: then and now

Bond: then and now

Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?

Sally Potter interview

Sally Potter interview

The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.

Daniel Craig interview

Daniel Craig interview

'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’