Wednesday 4 August 2021


It's been a pretty intense year working in festivals and events. We started talking about what the 2021 Edinburgh International Film Festival might look like way back in Autumn 2020, when we were just about to go into another lockdown, no one was vaccinated, and the idea of organising anything where people gathered (!) indoors (!) just felt pretty impossible.

But, bit by bit, we started to plan and think about what the Film Festival could look like if we brought it back to basics (one indoor venue, one outdoor venue, a whole lot of great films), focusing on a simple model which celebrated the return of cinema, and kept things as safe as possible.

And we did it! The 74th Edinburgh International Film Festival launched its programme last week and (yes, I am totally biased), it is great! This year's Festival runs 18-25 August, and is a hybrid event of in-person and digital screenings, with 31 premiere feature films and 73 shorts, and 50% of the new films are directed or co-directed by women! We've even managed to sneak in a couple of very fancy galas at Festival Theatre too!

It's also going to be my last Film Festival, as I'm off somewhere new in September (but we'll chat about that later).

So, here's my top 10 picks! Tickets are moving pretty quickly with a few things already sold out, so if anything catches your eye, I'd recommend booking as soon as you can.

1. Pig This year EIFF's opening with the new Nicolas Cage film, where he stars as a reclusive truffle hunter whose beloved truffle-finding pig goes missing. Nicolas Cage is meant to be incredible in this, as he goes on a journey to track down the pignappers. It'll be screening in the very fancy Festival Theatre!

2. Everybody's Talking About Jamie A special preview of the movie based on the West End musical, based on the documentary following the real life story of Jamie - a teenager who overcomes prejudices to fulfil his ambition to become a fierce and fearless drag queen. Such a feel-good film, great songs, and actual real-life Jamie will be there, so I think it's going to be a really special event.

3. Film Fest in the City EIFF's outdoor screenings are back, and this time they are running for seven days from 19-25 August in St Andrew Square. A few films are sold out already, but there's loads on including the original Star Wars trilogy, Clueless, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show! Plus it's all free!

4. Prince of Muck A beautiful documentary about the Laird of the Isle of Muck - Scotland's smallest inhabited island! The location is incredible, and it's just such a moving reflection on heritage, tradition, family, and getting older. The director will be in town for an in-person Q&A too! 

5. EIFF Youth I'm a big fan of our EIFF Youth programme, which is all about inspiring and helping young people get into film and the film industry! This year the programme is a mix of screenings, watch-parties and online events, helping you get into film and tv, film journalism, and much more! (plus, as it's online, it's open to anyone - whether you're officially a youth or not!). The schedule can be seen here and online events will be on EIFF's Youtube channel.

6. Annette Straight out of opening Cannes, who doesn't want to watch Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard in a sexy, edgy rock opera? 

7. Mad God During the planning process for EIFF, I felt very smug that I was filmy enough to recognise the name of director Phil Tippett, until I realised I recognised him from the Jurassic Park meme. He's a ground-breaking Oscar and Emmy-winning visual effects director and supervisor who has worked on incredible things - Jurassic Park! Star Wars! Indiana Jones! Robocop! - and he's worked on this film for 30 years. 

8. The Night House I love a creepy psychological thriller, and this looks great. Rebecca Hall stars as Beth, a woman living alone in an idyllic and isolated lakeside house, reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Things get spooky, she starts looking into his past, it turns out things are not how they seemed to be! 

9. Fathom Another beautiful documentary, this time about the study of humpback whales: their song, their culture and how they communicate (did you know that the systems that process emotions are more complex in whale brains, than in humans? That they are one of the oldest cultures in the world? That they carry songs around the world? Ahhh, I love it!). This screening will be accompanied by a discussion with Dr Ellen Garland from the film.

10. EIFF Fan Club Finally, we've got one last surprise in store! The programme will be announced just before EIFF starts on 18 August, but the EIFF Fan Club will be pairing some very cool Scottish cultural folk with some of their favourite film stars. A new Fan Club event will be available every day of the festival on Youtube

In-person events? Who would have thought it! See you there!