In just under a week’s time, the 2019 edition of the Edinburgh International Film Festival will be underway, and Entertainment Focus will be there to bring you all the latest news and reviews. This year’s EIFF programme is once again a truly diverse and international showcase of cinema, reflecting the changing face of all aspects of society and culture.
Balancing big Hollywood blockbusters alongside low budget indies, experimental cinema, short films, retrospectives, and an eclectic mix of established and emerging filmmakers from all over the world, EIFF has something for everyone. It is undoubtedly the ultimate festival for film fans.
If you haven’t had chance to peruse the full programme yet, then fear not because we’ve done it for you. Here are our picks for the 15 must-see films at this year’s event. Tickets are on sale now, so don’t delay.
The Dead Don’t Die
Director: Jim Jarmusch Cast: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop
It opened this year’s Cannes Film Festival and got roundly trounced by the critics, but quite frankly, who cares? If you can’t get excited about a zombie comedy directed by Jim Jarmusch, featuring THAT cast, then you must hate movies! Even if the Cannes critical cognoscenti turn out to be correct, it remains the must-see movie of EIFF 2019.
Balance, Not Symmetry
Director: Jamie Adams Cast: Laura Harrier, Bria Vinaite, Lily Newmark, Scott Miller
A World Premiere at this year’s festival, Balance, Not Symmetry tells the story of a Scottish-American art student whose life is thrown into a spin when her father suddenly dies. With a great cast including Spider-Man: Homecoming star Laura Harrier, the brilliant Bria Vinaite from The Florida Project, and a soundtrack by Biffy Clyro, this is definitely one to look out for.
Director: Robert Budreau Cast: Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, Mark Strong
Based on the true story of an armed robber who holds up a bank in Stockholm in 1973, and then forms an unlikely bond with the people he has taken hostage. Great cast. Great soundtrack. Ethan Hawke in a cowboy hat. What more do you want?
Director: Pella Kagerman & Hugo Lilja Cast: Emelie Jonsson, Bianca Cruzeiro, Arvin Kananian
This bold and high-concept Swedish science fiction horror tells the story of a massive spacecraft taking settlers to a new life on Mars. When it is knocked off course, the passengers must face up to the devastating likelihood that they will be floating in the void of space forever. Already a big hit on the festival circuit, this is one not to be missed.
In Person: Danny Boyle
Not a film, but a bloody good filmmaker. As part of the Special Events strand at this year’s festival, the Oscar winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, The Beach, and T2 Trainspotting drops by EIFF to discuss his incredible career, and promote his new film Yesterday.
Director: Danny Boyle Cast: Himseh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon
Written by Richard Curtis, this delightful fantasy comedy imagines a world where The Beatles have been completely forgotten and erased from existence, and only one man can remember their music. That man is singer-songwriter Jack, who begins performing their magical pop songs to a world that has never heard them before. This one is sure to be a crowd-pleasing hit.
The Longest Night (La Mala Noche)
Director: Gabriela Calvache Cast: Noëlle Schönwald, Cristian Mercado, Jaime Tamariz
This hard-hitting Ecuadorian thriller from debut writer-director Gabriela Calvache tells the story of a beautiful woman who turns to prostitution after becoming addicted to prescription drugs, and finds herself caught up in the world of human trafficking. This stark and brutal drama is screening as part of the World Perspectives strand.
Not the End (Sin Fin)
Director: César Esteban Alenda, José Esteban Alenda Cast: María León, Javier Rey, Juan Carlos Sánchez, Paco Ochoa, Mari Paz Sayago
Based on their own short film from 2015, the Alenda brothers have adapted Not the End into a feature film, which is making its UK premiere at EIFF this year as part of the Focus on Spain strand. It tells the affecting story of a time traveller revisiting the early romantic days of his relationship in the hope he can rewrite the present.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Director: Stacie Passon Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario, Sebastian Stan, Crispin Glover
Shirley Jackson’s gothic novel is given its first screen adaptation thanks to director Stacie Passon. With a terrific cast including Sebastian Stan and Alexandria Daddario, this sinister and haunting tale of the Blackwood family is sure to delight.
The Features of Agnès
When Agnès Varda passed away in March this year we lost one of the radical visionaries of the French New Wave. A unique artist and feminist pioneer, Varda’s films have made a lasting impact. To celebrate her life and work, EIFF is screening a retrospective of some of her most famous films (Cléo from 5 to 7, Vagabond, One Sings, the Other Doesn’t, The Beaches of Agnès) as well as her final film, Varda by Agnès.
Strange But True
Director: Rowan Athale Cast: Amy Ryan, Nick Robinson, Margaret Qualley, Connor Jessup, Blythe Danner, Brian Cox, Greg Kinnear
A terrific cast head up this atmospheric film about a young woman who survives a car crash that kills her boyfriend. Five years later she believes that she is pregnant with his child. This mysterious thriller is based on the novel by John Searles, and makes it World Premiere at EIFF.
Toy Story 4
Director: Josh Cooley Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Maddie McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves
The last film ended so perfectly – other than cynical reasons that don’t exactly chime with the Pixar ethos – it’s hard to imagine what could have brought them back to the Toy Story well. But here they are, no doubt ready to enthral another generation with the adventures of Woody and Buzz. The early reviews suggest it could be another classic. Plus, it’s got Keanu Reeves in it this time! How could we ever have doubted them?
Director: Pollyanna McIntosh Cast: Lauryn Canny, Bryan Batt, Nora-Jane Noone, Cooper Andrews, Pollyanna McIntosh
Written and directed by Pollyanna McIntosh, this standalone sequel to The Woman (2011) tells the story of a feral teenager who is found at a Catholic hospital and then taken into care, where the nuns attempt to tame her. But Darlin’ holds a dark secret, and she isn’t travelling alone. Darlin’ is screening as a double bill with The Woman. We can’t wait for this one.
Director: Nick Hamm Cast: Lee Pace, Jason Sudeikis, Judy Greer, Corey Stoll, Michael Cudlitz
The closing film of the Venice Film Festival last year, Drive makes it UK premiere at EIFF. This 1980s set comedy drama explores the fascinating true story of car designer John DeLorean – yes the Back to Future car guy. After falling on hard times he becomes embroiled in the seedy and dangerous world of cocaine trafficking.
Robert the Bruce
Director: Richard Gray Cast: Angus Macfadyen, Jared Harris, Anna Hutchison, Zach McGowan, Patrick Fugit
I don’t know, you wait 25 years for a Robert the Bruce movie, and then two come along in the space of year. This one however, is kind of a legit sequel to Braveheart. Starring, produced, and written by Angus Macfadyen, reprising his role as Robert the Bruce, whom he played in Mel Gibson’s Oscar winner, this film focuses on the months after his armies have been depleted, and he is forced to seek refuge in the snowy Highlands.
For more information on this year’s Festival visit www.edfilmfest.org.uk
The 73rd edition of EIFF runs from 19 – 30 June 2019.