Alistair Harkness: Buzz around film festival programme

The film festival's Mark Adams.
The film festival's Mark Adams.
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After celebrating its 70th edition last year with a lacklustre line-up of movies and guests, the Edinburgh International Film Festival marks its official 70th anniversary next month with an interesting if still fairly low-key programme, writes Alistair Harkness.

The latter may simply be down to Edinburgh’s diminished status in recent years. As a festival it no longer has the clout to secure, say, the British premiere of a new Lynne Ramsay film (You Were Never Really Here debuted in Cannes recently).

But in lieu of this, artistic director Mark Adams has sensibly abandoned his previous policy of opening and closing the festival with Scottish efforts regardless of their quality.

Both God’s Own Country (already much acclaimed on the festival circuit) and early years Morrissey biopic England is Mine feel like stronger choices for an event that was starting to look a bit parochial.

The local talent that is being showcased also looks more interesting, particularly Daphne, the debut feature from award-winning Scottish director Peter Mackie Burns.

Guest-wise, an in-person event with the mercurial Kevin Bacon and his wife Kyra Sedgwick looks set to be the highlight: they’re coming in support of Sedgwick’s directorial debut, a TV movie entitled Story of a Girl starring Bacon.

Oliver Stone will also be in town to present a 30th anniversary screening of Wall Street —and career talks by seasoned industry veterans such as actor/director Stanley Tucci (who’s presenting his latest directorial effort Final Portrait) and Bond composer David Arnold should offer some entertaining insights into the film business.

There is, however, a notable lack of gala screenings to get excited about (Cars 3 anyone?) and it also seems odd that the festival would launch a new immersive screening strand – entitled Play – with a mini-retrospective of Edgar Wright films yet not have an accompanying preview of his much-anticipated (and imminent) new movie Baby Driver.

But there is a chance to see the latest from cine masters Terrence Malick (Song to Song) and Bong Joon-ho (whose Netflix movie Okja gets its big screen Scottish premiere), which should help create some buzz until the undiscovered gems start revealing themselves.

Alistair Harkness is The Scotsman’s film critic