Top ten to see at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013

By Ross Maclean

After a well documented stumble in 2011 where Edinburgh International Film Festival looked to be losing its way, it returned in 2012 with a new Artistic Director, Chris Fujiwara, and a sense of being newly emboldened. The line-up for 2013 features 146 films from 53 countries and seeks to continue forging this new path with a roster of interesting films and a distinct focus on the lesser known.

There is not a great deal in terms of films you will likely have heard of, but if you are willing to take the plunge and more than a few risks, potentially great content is certainly there.

These are the films I am most excited about seeing, but I am sure that by the end I will have happily discovered a few unknown pleasures that I will be breathlessly recommending to anyone I happen upon, online or in person…

The Great Hip Hop Hoax

A new documentary by Jeanie Finlay who brought us 2011’s wonderful paean to independent record shops, Sound It Out. Sticking with music again, this time she is dealing with the incredible true story of a couple of Scottish chancers who managed to hoodwink hip hop head honchos into believing these wannabe playas were from the US of A and very much the real deal. Part animation and part traditional doc, it sounds fascinating.

Frances Ha

After a brief sojourn into DreamWorks animation as co-writer of Madagascar 3, Noah Baumbach returns to the lo-fi world of angst-ridden indie dramedy he showcased in films like The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg. This time he is co-writing with the film’s star Greta Gerwig (both of whom will be in attendance at EIFF) and this story of readjusting for adulthood sounds like a heady mix of poignancy and hipster comedy with a fantastic actress in the lead role.

The Berlin File

A South Korean thriller (one of the many highlights from the festival’s Focus on Korea strand) set in Berlin and with a strong political undercurrent, this could be the sleeper foreign hit of the festival and maybe the year. With a plot involving spies from North and South Korea and promising impressive set-piece action, it might be the prime choice for fans of more fast-paced fare.

Stories We Tell

Actress Sarah Polley makes her first foray into feature-documentary making after successfully making the move into directing with Away From Her and Take This Waltz. As a personal look at her own family, it sounds like an intriguing, self-reflexive documentary centred around the death of Polley’s mother at a young age – and liable to induce tears in even the hardest-hearted audience.

Monsters University

While one might take a swing at the mighty Disney-Pixar because this is a follow-up and so lacking in the originality we have come to admire from the studio, it is still a Pixar film and as such still handled with enough care and attention to put nearly everything else to shame. In what appears to be Pixar’s take on the raucous campus comedy of Animal House, we join the younger versions of Monsters Inc.’s Mike and Sulley as they prepare to scare at the titular institution of this prequel.

For Those in Peril

After wowing at the Cannes Film Festival in May, this Scottish drama from first-time feature director Paul Wright arrives for its first Scottish screening. With a cast that includes Kate Dickie and Michael Smiley, this could be lead actor George Mackay’s breakthrough performance as the lone survivor of a fishing tragedy. Described as a study of a community’s reaction to disaster it sounds like it could be one of the most affecting dramas to emerge from Scotland in years.

Oh Boy

A German slacker comedy that takes place over a 24-hour period, it has the potential to be an innovative future cult classic. Of course with these things it could go either way but there is always mileage in themes of arrested development and hopefully this will make for an interesting counterpart to its US cousins we have grown so accustomed to.

The Bling Ring

Arguably the festival’s star attraction, it is certainly amongst the most high profile films making their UK debut here. Sofia Coppola’s new film features Hermione herself, Emma Watson, as a member of an image obsessed band of thieves knocking over the houses of the rich and infamous. Pitched as a satire on celebrity culture as well as, seemingly, a celebration of that very thing, it could prove divisive but there is no denying it adds a touch of glitz to the line-up.

What Maisie Knew

Steve Coogan and Julianne Moore star as a narcissistic power couple whose seven-year-old daughter Maisie falls by the wayside when they divorce. A modern update of a Henry James novel, it also features Alexander Skarsgård as one of Maisie’s new guardians and sounds like it could prove an incisive comic drama, fascinatingly told from the perspective of a child.

Jurassic Park 3D

Because it is one of the greatest films ever made. Dinosaurs. Jeff Goldblum. IMAX. 3D. You need more?

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