Edinburgh held its annual international film festival last June for its 73rd edition. I was lucky enough to receive press accreditation to the festival and here are my ten favourite films that I recommend checking out if you get the opportunity:
Never Look Away (2019) Directed by: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Easily my favourite film at the festival as well as my favourite film of 2019, Never Look Away takes the viewer on a gripping adventure spanning across three decades from the 1930s to the 1960s as Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling), a fictionalised version of artist Gerhard Richter, is forced to flee East Germany in order to obtain what he desires for himself, his wife, and for his true artistic talents to shine. Nominated at this year’s Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck‘s latest film is one of love and grief which is bound to strike a chord within you, one which you will not be able to cease resonating within.
The Informer (1929) Directed by: Arthur Robison
Based on Liam O’Flaherty‘s novel of the same name, The Informer is a 1929 silent film directed by Arthur Robison which was screened along with a live musical accompaniment as part of the BFI’s Unlocking the Archives strand. Recently restored by the BFI, The Informer tells the tale of a group of Dublin revolutionaries in the early days of the newly independent Irish Free State that faces problems after one of its members kills the head of the police. What follows is a tale of love, jealousy and revenge in a feature that belongs in the top ranks of the best of British cinema.
Cronofobia (2019) Directed by: Francesco Rizzi
Francesco Rizzi‘s directorial debut film Cronofobia is as enigmatic and it is intriguing. Set in Switzerland, Cronofobia tells the tale of two lost souls, Michael (Vinicio Marchioni) and Anna (Sabine Timoteo), who each have their own issues yet somehow they find solace or rather answers in each other’s company. This was definitely the biggest surprise for me at the festival.
Astronaut (2019) Directed by: Shelagh McLeod
Astronaut received its world premiere at this year’s edition of the EIFF. Written and directed by first-time director Shelagh McLeod, Astronaut tells the tale of Angus (Richard Dreyfuss), a lonely widower whose long-held dream has been of becoming an astronaut. His dream is reignited when a nationwide competition is announced to win a trip to space. But will Angus’ age, health and family prevent him from achieving his dream? Astronaut is heart-warming and a perfect film to watch with your entire family.
The Vast of Night (2019) Directed by: Andrew Patterson
Easily one of the films that generated the most buzz, Andrew Patterson‘s directorial-debut film The Vast of Night is an incredible accomplishment in terms of a sci-fi movie, especially considering its low budget. During the Cold War, in a small town in New Mexico, a late-night radio presenter (Jake Horowitz) and a switchboard operator (Sierra McCormick) attempt to find the roots of an eerie happening occurring in their town. Littered with incredible cinematography by M.I. Littin-Menz, The Vast of Night rightfully deserved all the hype that surrounded it during the festival.
Photograph (2019) Directed by: Ritesh Batra
The director of the internationally-acclaimed The Lunchbox, Ritesh Batra, returns with his latest film Photograph. Just as sweet-natured and endearing as the former, Photograph tells the tale of a shy street photographer Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who is forced to asked a stranger (Sanya Malhotra) whose picture he has taken to pretend to be his fiancée in order to cease his grandmother’s constant requests for him to get married. Photograph marks the return of Ritesh Batra at his best, back in his beloved city of Mumbai after shooting his last two features in the West.
Synonyms (2019) Directed by: Nadav Lapid
Partly based off Nadav Lapid‘s own life story, Synonyms tells the tale of Israeli ex-soldier Yoav (Tom Mercier) who has chosen to leave his homeland to settle in Paris. However, his past and his homeland refuse to leave him get on with his new life as he is forced to confront his demons. Synonyms promises to render the audience speechless as its intrigue-driven plot leaves you questioning as a Westerner your luck to have been born in a privileged setting.
My Name is Joe (1998) Directed by: Ken Loach
The film which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in 1998 is one its director Ken Loach‘s most famous features. Joe is a recovering alcoholic living in a deprived area of Glasgow. Despite his checkered past Joe appears to have been given a second chance at life after a chance encounter with social worker Sarah (Louise Goodall). However, when issues occur for his friend Liam (David McKay), Joe’s new ethos is tested to its limits as he risks losing everything he has worked for to crawl out of his pit of self-destruction.
Venezia (2019) Directed by: Rodrigo Guerrero
Argentine director Rodrigo Guerrero‘s debut film Venezia tells the tale of Sofia (Paula Lussi) who has come to Venice with her new husband on their honeymoon. However, when the husband suddenly dies, Sofia is forced to roam this romantic city alone without being able to understand nor be understood by the people with whom she interacts due to the language barrier. Be prepared for lingering shots with very little dialogue!
Carla’s Song (1996) Directed by: Ken Loach
And to complete my top 10 I have chosen another film by Ken Loach, this time his lesser known feature Carla’s Song. Set in both Scotland and Nicaragua, Carla’s Song tells the tale of George (Robert Carlyle), a Glaswegian bus driver who becomes involved with Carla (Oyanka Cabezas), a Nicaraguan refugee. George drops everything to accompany Carla back to her war-torn homeland of Nicaragua. This film is a testament to Ken Loach‘s mastery as he manages his two co-stars perfectly, especially Oyanka Cabezas for whom this was her first and only appearance on the big screen. I would definitely recommend watching this if you are familiar with Loach‘s filmography. Carla’s Song was my first time watching one of his films and I would definitely recommend this as an entry point into his work as it is ever-so-slightly less tough than some of his most famous films such as My Name is Joe and Kes.