The 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival

Back in February, I attended Volkswagen’s latest See Film Differently event in Edinburgh. The third of such events, the initiative screened Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting in the city’s Royal Scottish Academy following an introduction from Boyle himself. Hosted in part by James Mullighan, the director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival spoke of a reinvention for the 65th annual event, both as a response to recent budget cuts and in an attempt to boldly rejuvinate itself for the future. Now with less than a month to go until John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard opens the ceremony, it is possible to glean what this might mean for Scotland’s biggest ode to film.

The 2011 Edinburgh International Film Festival, which will run between 15th-26th June, will showcase a select number of shorts, feature films and documentaries that are both U.K. and international in origin. Having formed a unique partnership with The Sheffield Doc/Fest, documentaries such as James Marsh’s Project Nim, Danfung Dennis’s Hell And Back Again and Matthew Bate’s Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure will enjoy double impact premières, providing such films with a much bigger launch pad.

Showing a renewed focus on British film, this year’s festival will host the world première of David Hare’s first directorial outing in 20 years, political thriller Page Eight, and the European première of David Mackenzie’s forthcoming sci-fi thriller Perfect Sense. Also flying the flag for Britain are Niall MacCormick’s Albatross, a nuanced coming of age comedy drama starring the infinitely talented Felicity Jones (Chalet Girl), and Fast Romance, the début feature from Scottish director Carter Ferguson, a Glasgow-set romantic comedy.

From over assorted seas come an arresting array of movies including Philip Seymour Hoffman’s highly anticipated directorial début Jack Goes Boating, Terry McMahon’s Charlie Casonova and The Bang Bang Club, Steven Silver’s combat drama about photojournalists in post-apartheid South Africa. Perhaps most exciting, for me at least, is the inclusion of The Troll Hunter. The film, a Norwegian moc doc, has been garnering considerable hype over recent months and is already considered a roaring success.

More interesting, however, are the innovations being made to keep Edinburgh relevant in a landscape positively brimming with film festivals. Following Glasgow’s successful superhero celebration, which saw Mark Miller screen a selection of superhero movies and offer appraisal of festival-goers’ own comicbooks, Edinburgh has arranged a series of cinematic events in order to create a more interactive celebration of film than would ever be possible in a screening room. In addition to the usual Q&As and workshops are two intriguing innovations. “Outside The Box” releases films from the auditorium – providing it doesn’t rain, presumably – while “Real Science” hands classics such as The Terminator and Momento over to resident experts in AI and neuroscience for discussion.

Tickets are available now for booking, with many of the movies on offer being shown for free. Visit the official website for details.

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