Preview: Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014

A John le Carré adaptation starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and a DSK-inspired drama featuring Gérard Depardieu are among the starrier premieres at this year’s EIFF.

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Anton Corbijn’s espionage drama A Most Wanted Man, featuring one of the final performances by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Abel Ferrara’s controversial Welcome to New York, starring Gérard Depardieu and inspired by the case of IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, are just two highlights from the 156 features making up this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF).

Now in its 68th edition, the festival kicks off today with the opening night gala screening of Gerard Johnson’s London underworld drama Hyena, which will compete for the Michael Powell Award for best British feature. Its competitors include Gillies MacKinnon’s Castles in the Sky, starring Eddie Izzard in the story of Scottish engineer Robert Watson-Watt; Andy Goddard’s Set Fire to the Stars, featuring Elijah Wood; Antony Petrou’s We Are Monster, based on the tragic case of an Asian teenager who was brutally killed at a young offenders’ institute in the UK; and Uberto Pasolini’s Britain-set Still Life, starring Eddie Marsan.

More than ever the programme’s emphasis is on the international. Festival director Chris Fujiwara has put together a roster of films from 47 different countries, most of which have never been seen on these shores before. Unveiled in the international competition lineup are Dietrich Brüggemann’s Berlin prizewinner Stations of the Cross; Koji Fukada’s coming-of-age drama Au revoir l’été; Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s deadpan The Owners; and Alejandro Fernández Almendras’s To Kill a Man. From Mexico, there’s Fernando Eimbcke’s Club Sandwich; from Thailand, Concrete Clouds is the feature debut of Lee Chatametikool and is produced by Apichatpong Weerasethakul; and from South Korea, there’s Lee Su-jin’s Han Gong-ju, also a first film.

Snowpiercer (2013)

After three fallow years, EIFF has also reinstated its documentary competition. Here cinephiles will be particularly interested in A Fuller Life, Samantha Fuller’s tribute to her legendary filmmaking father, Sam Fuller; as well as Life May Be, an exchange of ideas about art and identity between Mark Cousins and Iranian auteur Mania Akbari. There’s also the latest film from documentarist Wang Bing (West of the Tracks): Til Madness Do Us Part is a typically epic account of life in a Chinese mental hospital.

World cinema’s more established auteurs get their own spotlight in the Directors’ Showcase, which this year features new work from Michel Gondry, Tsai Ming-liang and Bong Joon-ho. Stray Dogs is said to be Tsai’s last film, though has already been acclaimed in some quarters as a film of the year. Bong’s sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer also arrives in the UK on the back of much festival acclaim; Chris Evans, John Hurt, Jamie Bell and Tilda Swinton are among the cast. Meanwhile, Cathedrals of Culture is a 3D tribute to cathedral building, with directorial contributions from Wim Wenders and Robert Redford.

Running from 18-29 June, the festival comes to a close with a gala screening of We’ll Never Have Paris, a rom-com set in New York and Paris and the debut film by husband-wife team Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne. For full details of the programme, head over to the EIFF website.

BFI Player logo

Stream new, cult and classic films

A free trial, then just £4.99/month or £49/year.

Try 14 days free