Edinburgh International Film Festival top picks

The Legend of Barney Thomson. Pic: Graeme Hunter Pictures

The Legend of Barney Thomson. Pic: Graeme Hunter Pictures

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The 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival opens its doors next week for the 69th time and comes complete with a new artistic director and a wide spectrum of films over the course of its 12-day run.

The festival boasts 164 feature films from 44 countries, 24 of which are world premieres and 84 UK premieres.

We flipped through the programme and picked out the films that we believe are the must-sees of this year’s edition.

Inside Out

After a one-year hiatus, Pixar return to the fore with Inside Out, a brand new animation that takes us inside the mind.

The film, which comes from Up director Pete Doctor, features an impressive roster of vocal talent, including Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader.

When a little girl moves to a new home in San Fransisco, her emotions - Joy, Anger, Fear, Sadness and Disgust - are thrown into disarray as they compete for control.

Fresh from its bow at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation and positive reviews, Inside Out looks set to dazzle children and adults alike.

Amy

It’s hard to believe that singing sensation Any Winehouse died three years ago - and at the still tender age of 27.

This documentary depicts the turbulent life of the Grammy Award- winning artist, from her cut-short career in music, to her relationships and her subsequent battle with addiction.

Directed by Asif Kapadia, who last turned out the award-winning Senna, Amy features archival footage of the star as well as her family, friends and musical peers.

It’s reportedly been disowned by her estate, but the trailer and first reactions promise a deeply moving account of the hit-maker cut down in her prime.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Known to some through her role in M.I. High and her lead turn in the recent period drama A Royal Night Out, Bel Powley takes centre stage in The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

Featuring support from Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard, the film is adapted from Phoebe Gloeckner’s novel of the same name and attracted strong buzz from the Sundance Film Festival.

It tells the story of Minnie, a teenager in the 1970s who embarks upon an affair with her mother’s boyfriend.

This looks set to be Powley’s breakthrough and who doesn’t love Wiig, who comes to the festival with not one but two films (the second of which is the very funny looking Welcome To Me).

Maggie

Zombie dramas have been done to death now, but when did you see one starring former action star and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Arnie stars as Wade, a caring father who looks after his daughter (played by Abigail Breslin) after she becomes infected by an outbreak of disease that slowly turns its victims into zombies. Most of us know Arnold as the star of The Terminator and The Expendables, where all he’s required to do is throw punches and mutters one liners, so the idea of him toning it right down and actually doing some proper acting is an exciting one.

The Legend of Barney Thomson

Robert Carlyle has been a friend of the festival for years. California Solo, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands and Summer have all screened there.

This time, he’s there with The Legend of Barney Thomson, his first feature as director, which also happens to be the Opening Gala.

Described as a ‘macabre comedy’, the film centres on an awkward Glasgow barber whose life takes a twisted turn when he enters the world of a serial killer.

Carlyle takes the lead role, opposite a cast of top tier UK talent, including Emma Thompson, Ray Winstone, James Cosmo and Martin Compston.

Critics’ Choice

The Overnight

Two films stand-out for me in this year’s programme. The Overnight. centres on a couple who move to a new neighbourhood, only to have their eyes opened wide when an innocent family play date turns into something far seedier.

It’s written and directed by Patrick Brice who was responsible for Creep, giving you an idea of the kind of film to expect and stars Taylor Schilling, Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman.

CHICKEN

The second is Chicken, a new British drama directed by newcomer Joe Stephenson, which has already attracted famous backers, one of which is Sir Ian McKellen.