Edinburgh Film Festival 2016: 11 films to see

Our film editor picks 11 of the most interesting looking screenings and events at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival (15-26 June)

Feature by Jamie Dunn | 25 May 2016

As ever, opening the new fresh-from-the-printers EIFF programme offers up a world of cinematic delights. Choosing what to see, however, can be a bit of a lucky-dip: many of the films are from emerging filmmakers and some are being shown to audiences for the first time. Quality cannot be guaranteed, but that frisson of seeing something mint fresh or discovering a new favourite filmmaker is what keeps the festival electric. 

We can, however, guarantee you’ll have fun at some of the films in the cinéma du look retrospective with titles like Diva and Les Amants du Pont-Neuf offering an eye-popping collision of art and pulp that’s as irresistible now as it was then. (Not all of the cinéma du look films have held up, though. Three decades on, Betty Blue, perhaps the most well-known of the bunch, is laughably morose at best, rank misogyny at worst. Not even the mighty Beatrice Dalle can save it.)

There are also gems to be found in the Focus on Finland strand (deadpan cheerleading doc Cheer Up is a joy) and a shorts programme filled with some of Scotland's most exciting young filmmakers (make sure to see the new films from Cat Bruce, Rory Alexander Stewart, and Ross Hogg and Duncan Cowles). And don’t miss the opportunity to see films like Playtime and 2001: A Space Odyssey projected on 70mm in the mouthwatering 70-70 strand.

Below, however, are the 11 events and screenings we reckon you’d be most mad to miss.


There are two reasons why we’re drawn to Mercedes Grower’s directorial debut. First, the cast, which reads like a who’s who of British comedy (Julian Barratt, Julia Davis, Noel Fielding, and Steve Oram). Second, the intriguing structure: the first half traces the emotionally heightened breakups of several relationships, while the second half follows the beginnings of those relationships – sounds like Pinter's The Betrayal, but with multiple couples over just two acts. 17 Jun, 8.55pm; 19 Jun 6.10pm

Bigger Than The Shining

Mysteriously titled “an experiment by Mark Cousins,” we’re not really sure if this is a film, a lecture or a performance – maybe it’ll mix all three – but we believe it’s asking the question: can two people ever really see the same film? Colour us intrigued. 17 Jun, 8.40pm

Five Animated Years of Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson

Since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 2011 and 2012 respectively, Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson have between them amassed a Bafta each, a McLaren Award each, and countless other festival prizes for their hilarious and emotionally acute animations. Other animators who’ve had this retrospective slot at recent EIFF’s include giants like Don Hertzfeldt, Ray Harryhausen and The Quay Brothers. These ridiculously talented young filmmakers belong in that company. 24 Jun, 3.45pm

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Following last year’s wickedly funny vampire-reality-show comedy What We Do in the Shadows, Taika Waititi looks to be back in the more personal mode of his 2010 film Boy with this bittersweet coming-of-age movie about an overweight tearaway trekking into the New Zealand bush with his reluctant foster dad (Sam Neill). Waititi is soon to be swallowed up by the MCU – he’s directing Thor 3 – so he might not be making this kind of small-scale movie for a while. Don’t miss it. 16 Jun & 25 Jun, 8.30pm

Jeremy Thomas In Person

Is there any movie money-man working today with a better taste in directors than Jeremy Thomas? He’s produced films with Nicholas Roeg, David Cronenberg, Agnès Varda, Bob Rafelson, Jerzy Skolimowski, Jonathan Glazer, Jim Jarmusch and Nagisa Oshima to name just a few. He’s won an Oscar with Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor) and he’s currently nurturing the talents of Ben Wheatley (who he hand-picked to make High-Rise) and Matteo Garrone (their Tale of Tales is released 17 June). Suffice to say, he knows his movies. This should be a fascinating talk. 21 Jun, 8.30pm

Kevin Smith In Person

We can’t promise you a good time at Kevin Smith’s latest movie Yoga Hosers (some sholock about Nazi bratwurst sausage zombies terrorising a small town, or something), but we can pretty much guarantee you’ll have fun at his “In Person” chat. As he told the Guardian a few years ago: he’s not a born filmmaker; he’s a born storyteller. 22 Jun, 8.30pm

Little Men

Ira Sachs is becoming one of our great New York filmmakers. His earlier films (Love is Strange, Keep the Lights On) have been concerned with the relationships between gay men making their way in the city. This latest one concerns the friendship between two odd-couple 13-year-old boys, a shy Manhattanite and a swaggering Brooklyner, who get torn apart by a nasty financial dispute between their parents. 22 Jun, 8.45pm; 23 Jun, 6.20pm

Little Sister

After seeing its world premiere at SXSW, The New Yorker’s Richard Brody declared Little Sister “one of the great recent political films.” Directed by Zack Clark, the film follows a young nun who’s yet to take vows as she visits her dysfunctional family home for a week in an effort to reconnect with her brother, who’s returned from combat in Iraq with more than emotional scars. Clark's witty Modern Love Is Automatic was an EIFF highlight back in 2009 – we're hoping for more of the same. 25 Jun, 6.05pm; 26 Jun, 6.15pm

Lost in France

This is sure to be one of the hot tickets at this year’s festival. This doc tells how, in the late 1990s, a rabble of bands on the Chemikal Underground label hired a bus and headed off on a road trip to a town in rural France to play a one-off gig. Now they are headed back to relive the experience. This celebration of the great Glasgow label’s rise during the city’s incredible music scene of the 90s is paired with a night of live music with some of those Chemikal Underground acts. Keep an eye on theskinny.co.uk/news for details of who’ll be performing. 16 Jun, 8.55pm (film only); 17 Jun, 5.30pm (with Chemikal Underground bands and DJs) 

The Love Witch

Pick of the Night Moves strand looks to be this wild and gory take on 60s sexploitation from wirter-director Anna Biller. It follows a nymphomaniacal young witch who uses her supernatural powers to seduce men – and when they disappoint her between the sheets she turns to murder. Reports are that Biller’s film is lovingly designed and uses beautiful 35mm film and in-camera special effects to vividly recreate the 60s feel. 19 Jun, 8.40pm; 20 Jun, 8.45pm


The crown of a great-looking Black Box programme is this super rare screening of Lizzie Borden’s Regrouping (this will be only its fourth ever public run). Like her most celebrated work, dizzying sci-fi/moc-doc hybrid Born in Flames, Regrouping is reportedly a thorny study in sisterhood, as challenging of feminist groups as it is celebratory.

As Black Box programmer Kim Knowles notes, Borden’s film acts as a reminder of EIFF's radical history in the 70s. “[Regrouping]’s experimental aesthetic and focus on feminism, sexuality and collectivity ties together the issues that were being debated at EIFF throughout the 1970s,” she says. “The retrospective is a wonderful addition to and a celebration of EIFF's longstanding commitment to alternative film practice." Most excitingly, Borden is set to attend the screening. 23 Jun, 6.10pm; 24 Jun, 8.30pm

EIFF runs 15-26 Jun

Keep up with our coverage of the festival over at theskinny.co.uk/festivals/edinburgh-festivals/film