Edfilmfest 2018 - part 1

Posted on: 29 Jun 2018 by Philip Wyn Jones

Greetings from the 72nd Edinburgh International Film Festival. I’m now about halfway through my eighteen films. Let’s take a look at the first six.

1: What Will People Say (Iram Haq, Norway, 106 minutes). An Iranian family have moved to Norway for the benefit of their children. Both the son and daughter are intent on having medical careers and their academic studies are well advanced. The daughter has relaxed into the way of life familiar to her friends but when the father catches a boy in her bedroom all hell breaks loose. He resolves to punish her and does so in ways that become increasingly vicious and cruel in this powerful film.

2: Weightless (Jaron Albertin, USA, 93 minutes). A husband and wife have long since separated. She took their son with her. She has now disappeared and abandoned the son. He’s a lovely lad but has great difficulty communicating with others. It falls to the husband (the excellent Alessandro Nivola) to take care of a boy he hardly knows after many years apart. Although kind and well-intentioned, he has his own mental problems but tries his best. The film’s ending is up-beat but is obviously wishful thinking and not what really happened.

3: Zagros (pictured, Sahim Omar, Belgium, 102 minutes). Zagros is a shepherd on the mountains of Kurdistan. He’s happily married but his brothers and their father dislike his wife intensely and abuse her physically. At the same time they work hard to plant suspicions about her in Zagros’ mind. When the wife flees to Belgium, Zagros follows and initially all seems well. Then the father arrives and matters go from bad to worse. The family order Zagros to act. Feyyaz Duman, as Zagros, gives a wonderful performance as a man who is far too gullible for his own good and fatally prone to jealousy.

4: Who We Are Now (Matthew Newton,  USA, 100 minutes). In this excellent film’s early stages we are bombarded by a huge number of characters and we proceed to explore the backgrounds of  many of them. Beth has just been released from jail where she was serving time for manslaughter. A young female barrister is about to embark on her first cases. Beth’s young son has been living with foster parents throughout her incarceration. She wants him back. Can this young and inexperienced  barrister help her? Julianne Nicholson, as Beth, gives a stunning performance. Also in the film, in a small but significant role, is Jason Biggs, whose apple pie days are now just a fond memory. 

5: We the Animals (Jeremiah Zagar, USA, 94 minutes). We meet a severely impoverished family; husband, wife and three young sons. The husband treats the wife badly but the boys lead an idyllic life in their rural surroundings. The youngest son is an interesting character. During the night he retreats under his bed and, in torchlight, writes and draws prolifically. He has a vivid imagination which includes a generally unreliable foretelling of future events. This unusual film is slow-moving, lyrical and tends to linger in the memory.

6: The Eyes of Orson Welles (Mark Cousins, UK, 110 minutes). Mark Cousin’s latest film is a guaranteed highlight of every Edinburgh International Film Festival. This is definitely one of his best. Stemming from his exclusive access to Welles’ lifelong collection of drawings, now guarded by his daughter, Cousins has created a fascinating portrait of Welles’ life and work. The drawings reflect his world-wide journeys and the people he either simply observed or with whom he came into close contact. Many of the drawings were made by him in preparation for his films. There are generous excerpts from his films, including those which he failed to complete, and I was glad to see my favourite Welles film, Chimes at Midnight, receiving special attention.

Click here to read part 2

Philip Wyn Jones

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