Edinburgh Film Festival 2019: Scottish films and talent

Edinburgh Film Festival announces the lineup of Scottish talent included this year’s programme, including a sequel to Braveheart and a TV show based on work by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Article by Jamie Dunn | 20 May 2019
  • Jack Lowden and Peter Mullan – EIFF 2016

As ever, they’ll be plenty of Scottish talent gracing this screen at this year’s film festival, not least in opening film Boyz in the Wood, a riotous action-comedy in which four teens get terrorised by a demented Laird while orienteering across the Highlands.

Another of EIFF’s Gala screenings with a Scottish connection is Balance, Not Symmetry. Directed by Jamie Adams, a prolific filmmaker who’s a firm festival favourite (he had two films, Songbird and Wild Honey Pie! in last year’s programme), it’s described as a “cinematic tribute to art, music and Scotland, in particular Glasgow.” The film's Scottish connection continues thanks to the input from popular Kilmarnock band Biffy Clyro, who’ve provided the score and storyline.

You wait years for a Robert the Bruce film and then two come along. Following swiftly on the heels of David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King with Chris Pine comes another take on the nobleman-turned-outlaw hero, titled simply Robert the Bruce, with Angus Macfadyen reprising the role he memorably played in Braveheart. Is it a sequel to that Oscar-winning Mel Gibson joint? A spin-off? We’re intrigued (as well as the EIFF screenings, you'll find Robert the Bruce in UK cinemas from 28 June).

Two films with “scheme” in the title also look promising. Scheme Birds comes fresh from Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the top documentary prize. From Sweedish filmmakers Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin, the doc centres on a teenage girl coming-of-age in hardscrabble Motherwell and was described by Variety as recalling the “sensory, symbol-heavy aesthetic of Andrea Arnold’s narrative cinema.” There’s also Schemers, from Dundee-born writer/director David McLean. Shot in his hometown, it’s a semi-autobiographical look at the McLean’s early years in the music business.

Talking of Dundee, the city’s most famous actor, Brian Cox, has a film at EIFF: noirish thriller Strange but True, which also features Nick Robinson, Amy Ryan and Greg Kinnear. Strange But True will play on CBS in the States, and there another TV-bound work in the festival: new series Good Omens. A new adaptation of the fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, directed by Scottish director Douglas Mackinnon (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Line of Duty), it tells the story of an angel (Michael Sheen) and a demon (David Tennant) joining forces to save the world. Good Omens is on Amazon Prime Video from 31 May, but this will likely be the only chance to see the series on the big screen. We’re told some special guests are expected to attend the screenings.

Some of the Scottish talent attendings have been confirmed. Rising actor Jack Lowden has become a firm favourite at EIFF over the last few years. He’s had a film open the festival (Tommy’s Honour), close the festival (England Is Mine) and win the Michael Powell award (last year’s Calibre). He’ll be back this year for BAFTA Scotland Career Close-Up: Preparing for Screen Auditions alongside Scottish BAFTA winner Shauna Macdonald, to discuss how they prepare for auditions. Fresh from her role in The Walking Dead, Pollyanna McIntosh will also be in town for an In-Person event and to present her directorial debut, Darlin’, in which she also stars.

Peter Mullan will be at EIFF too, joining Scottish composer Craig Armstrong to take part in an on-stage conversation. The pair have known each other from their days at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre near the start of their careers, and their creative screen partnership began on Mullan’s early short films and continued into his three features – Orphans, The Magdalene Sisters and Neds. They’ll discuss this partnership during onstage talk The Magic of Collaborations.

Special strand 4 Views of Scotland also looks interesting, offering a chance to look back at some of the most important Film4 and Channel 4 productions made in Scotland. Paul McGuigan's The Acid House, Philip John's Wedding Belles and Ken Loach’s Carla’s Song and My Name is Joe all screen.

EIFF Artistic Director Mark Adams said: “Edinburgh International Film Festival has a long history of supporting and showcasing the very best Scotland has to offer and 2019 will be no exception. I am thrilled to be able to give this year’s audiences the chance to enjoy a huge range of films, talks, events and talent that highlight the very best of Scottish craftsmanship and skill.”

The 73rd edition of EIFF runs from 19-30 Jun. The full programme will be announced on 29 May. Tickets go on sale to EIFF Friends and Filmhouse Members on Wed 29 May at noon and on sale to the public on Fri 31 May at 10am