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Dr Nick's Edinburgh Film Festival Diary
by Niklas Vestberg

It's festival time yet again in Edinburgh. Fringe Festival, Book Festival and in the middle of it all, The Film Festival. Running for its 57th year, I'm told this is the world's longest running film festival. It only just started, so there's still time to come and join me in the Scottish Capital. That's probably not too convenient for most of you guys, so for the next ten days I thought I'd guide you through the highs and the lows of the event so you know what to watch out for and what to avoid when the films show up at a cinema near you.

At this year's festival I got a real head start. I managed to see 23 film before the festival had even started, thanks to the lovely people in the festival press office. A quick run-through of some of the things I saw on video:

ALEXANDRA'S PROJECT: Australian film about a marriage gone horribly wrong. Unnecessarily cruel at times, but definitely worth watching.

AND ALONG CAME A SPIDER: Iranian documentary about a serial killer, murdering prostitutes in Iran. It's quite a disturbing film as the killer and most of the people around him are proud of his deeds, as the women were sinners and in their eyes, deserved death. Definitely worth seeing.

BELLEVILLE RENDEZ-VOUS: A cartoon about an old woman who trains her grandson to become a professional cyclist and win the Tour de France. The film successfully blends traditional animation with 3D stuff and it looks amazing. Unfortunately, the story didn't do much for me personally and I quickly became very bored.

A BIG GIRL LIKE YOU: French film about a girl who tries to become independent from her parents by moving to the big city. Things don't really work out, and to survive on her own she resorts to theft and ultimately pornography. Not great, but interesting enough.

THE BOOKSTORE: Tunisian film about life in a bookstore. Sounds boring, and it also was very boring. Sooo slow. But, other people seem to like it. Maybe I'm just too restless for Tunisian romantic drama.

CHRISTMAS: Australian film following one family during the days leading up to Christmas. Quite amusing dark comedy about family life at its best and worse.

IN MY SKIN: Horrible French film about a woman who cuts herself...a lot...then eats her own skin. Not very pleasant to watch. Stay away.

EVENHAND: Fairly amusing American Indie cop comedy.

FOUR EYES: Scottish comedy, if you can call it that. This was one of the most painful experiences of the festival programme so far. So unfunny it hurts. It tries desperately to be like Peter Mullan's great film Orphans, but manages only to be cruel and bad.

NOI ALBINOI: The best thing I've seen so far. Icelandic comedy following Noi, as he tries to pass the time in a quiet small town. Original and very funny, this comes highly recommended.

SCREAMING MEN: Fascinating documentary about a Finnish Male Choir, specialising in screaming. The film follow this unusual choir on their world tour. Great stuff and highly recommended.

SONG FOR A RAGGY BOY: Irish drama about abuse in a Catholic school. Depressing stuff indeed. Quite good overall, but with some very disappointing bits.

TORREMOLINOS 73: Spanish film about a homemade porn movie director who wants to become the next Ingmar Bergman. Moving and funny film about not giving up on your dreams. Definitely worth seeing.

TUBE: South Korean film about a hostage situation onboard an underground train. Cool and violent and not much to think about, this is good fun.



...AND THE ACTUAL FESTIVAL STARTS

On Sunday was the opening night party. Or, actually the first of two opening parties. One, I got to go to, and one where all the celebrities went. My party was dull, with bad Scottish beer (which was free, though) and loads of people I didn't recognise.

Then the industry screenings started on Tuesday 12th August. I managed to catch two films:

FEAR X: Weird thriller about a man trying to find the reason behind his wife's murder. John Turturro is excellent and the film works on most levels, although I did find it quite confusing.

THE OTHER FINAL: Wonderful and fascinating documentary about the two worst football countries in the world playing each other. Moving film about the love of football and how winning isn't everything.

On Wednesday 13th I once again managed to catch two films:

THE RAGE IN PLACID LAKE: Very entertaining coming-of-age film from Australia. Highly recommended.

THE HOURS OF THE DAY: Strange Spanish film about a boring man with a boring job, in a loveless relationship. He goes to work, talks to his friend, has dinner with his mother and occasionally he kills random people. And nobody finds out. Not very interesting at all.

On Thursday I only saw one film, and not a very exciting one:

ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIS: Chinese film shot on HD. Set in a sort of post-apocalyptic landscape, it follows a family on their way to start a new life. Stunningly beautiful at times, but the story itself never really grabbed me.

Later that evening there was a small reception in the delegate centre. A London-based company were promoting their latest film LONDON VOODOO and if the photos and trailer are anything to go by, it should be really cool. See for yourselves at http://www.londonvoodoo.com

I also got an invitation to a release party for the film 16 YEARS OF ALCOHOL, but I was too tired so I just went home. Like you care anyway.

Today, Friday I'm gonna go and see CABIN FEVER, which looks like great fun. But, I'll tell you all about it in a couple of days when I bring you DR NICK'S EDINBURGH FILM FESTIVAL DIARY: RELOADED


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=779
originally posted: 08/16/03 00:52:29
last updated: 12/31/03 14:19:34
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