If a picture paints a thousand words, Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, consisting of 232,500 frames, would work out to be nearly ten times as substantial as Shakespeare’s. It would be reckless to infer that this makes cinema that much more valuable than literature, although, as Hitler and Lenin discovered, it is second to none in its ability to communicate a message to a large audience when well exploited. As a form of art that directly taps into our two most crucial senses, it diffuses the kind of information that we humans are most accustomed to processing. Yet film would be worthless without a story to tell, and this year the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) comes bearing the theme of ‘the written word’ in a bid to restore respect to the underrated writer without whom the painter would have no words to paint.
Teaming up with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, EIFF will offer the public a chance to dissect the thoughts of seminal wordsmiths including Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting), William Nicholson (Gladiator, Nell) and Paul Laverty (Sweet Sixteen, The Wind that Shakes the Barley), whilst placing nuance on writer-directors in the screenings programme. The festival will showcase the latest works of some of the most highly acclaimed auteurs of today, and among the long list of exciting oeuvres of this sort to grace Lothian Road this year will be Tarantino’s Death Proof, Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, and Chan-wook Park’s I’m a Cyborg but that’s OK; all of which will be British premieres.
The festival opens with Hallam Foe, adapted for the screen and directed by David Mackenzie for whom this would be the third EIFF contribution in four years. Set for the most part in Edinburgh, Hallam Foe follows the new beginnings of the eponymous voyeur played by Jamie Bell. The closing film will be Julie Delpy’s first directorial outing, Two Days in Paris, a cosmopolitan comedy featuring the French actress alongside Adam Goldberg and Daniel Brühl.
120 films from 31 countries will be showcased all in all during the festival, of which 93 will be British premieres. The highlights include Les Chansons d’Amour, a modern Parisian musical by nouvelle vague acolyte Christophe Honoré; Control, seminal photographer Anton Corbijn’s biopic of Joy Division's Ian Curtis; The Counterfeiters, high profile German wartime thriller touted to recreate the sensation that was The Lives of Others; A Mighty Heart, political think piece starring Angelina Jolie; Ratatouille, the unrivalled animation studio Pixar’s plat du jour; Seachd- the Inaccessible Pinnacle, the first Scottish Gaelic film to gain substantial distribution.
In 1947, the EIFF began as a documentary festival and the 24 films in this year’s Document strand will not be letting the festival forget its roots. Look out for In the Shadow of the Moon, an account of Earth from those who have seen it from space; Manufacturing Dissent: Uncovering Michael Moore, a look at the things the clever, white, Palme D’Or winner forgets to mention; and Comrades in Dreams, a film about a place we all know too well- the cinema.
Star spotters will have the chance to chat with a variety of cinematographic lynchpins including Bob Hoskins, Tilda Swinton, and Stellan Skarsgård, who will each be turning up to the festival as part of the “In Person” programme for a 90 minute public séance. Other interactive events featured include filmmaking and screenwriting workshops, as well as the various talks that offer an insight into the nitty-gritty workings of the film industry. For the true heavyweights, the festival will unleash the behemoth of newly remastered Berlin Alexanderplatz, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s (The Marriage of Maria Braun) 15½ hour mega portrait of post-war decadence that can be viewed either in two-hour daily shifts or in a two-day intensive marathon.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival runs from 15th August through to the 26th.