A Letter from Edinburgh (English)

Posted on: 24 Jun 2013 by Philip Wyn Jones

After last year’s enjoyable visit to the Edinburgh International Film Festival, my first, I just had to return to this year’s EIFF ( 19-30 June).

Day 1

My visit began at the Scottish National Portrait gallery for Tickling Jack: Comedy Greats from Sir Harry Lauder to Billy Connolly. This informative exhibition covers music hall, radio, TV and films and includes a stunning portrait of the young Kenneth McKellar. And so to my first film. Mushrooming ( Toomas Hussar, Estonia, 93 minutes ). In this offbeat satirical comedy a politician, his wife and a pop-star friend get lost in a forest. Well- acted, photographed and directed, this warm-hearted film takes a wry look at corruption and stupidity in high places.

Day 2

At the Scottish National Gallery I was impressed by a large painting depicting Cain and Abel. The artist was clearly influenced by Caravaggio. I also eavesdropped as a guide discussed Rembrandt. He praised the artist’s use of colour but suggested that getting the perspective right was not one of his top priorities!C.O.G. (Kyle Patrick Alvarez, USA, 87 minutes). This emotionally involving film is based on an autobiographical work by David Sedaris. A young man, clearly unhappy at home, endures an arduous bus journey, beautifully conveyed, with a view to meeting ordinary people outside his sheltered academic circle. This episode prepares the audience for the film’s main themes; sexuality and religion. The acronymic title pertains to the latter. The plot twists and turns and the cast, including an elderly-looking Dean Stockwell, are universally brilliant.

Day 3

A Story of Children and Film (Mark Cousins, UK, 104 minutes). This inspiring documentary arose from a kind of home movie Cousins shot with his young nephew and niece. Their behaviour led him to make this showcase of the best films that feature children, their attitudes and their experiences. The child actors are generally not professionals and the selection is truly international. Cousin’s young relatives shared the stage with him for the subsequent Q&A.The Obscured Histories and Silent Longings of Daguluan’s Children (Gutierrez Mankansakan 11, Philippines, 96 minutes). This documentary-type film sets out to depict village life in the Philippines and contains beautiful scenery accompanied by lyrical music. Unfortunately most of the dialogue is  staged and stilted and there are many static, dialogue-free, scenes that are held for a very long time. The whole experience proved to be too much for several members of the audience who left while the film was still playing.

Day 4

The Colour of the Chameleon (Emil Christov, Bulgaria, 111 minutes). A young man fakes an epileptic fit in order to be excused from military service. When his deception is discovered he has to choose between punishment or working for the Secret Service. So begins this low-key, sometimes inscrutable and often enjoyably absurd film. It has an attractive cast, a series of bizarre situations and a great sense of style. This is particularly in evidence in the final sequence, filmed in sparkling monochrome – a logical conclusion, as the film has afforded us several glimpses of Casablanca.

The Sea ( Stephen Brown, Ireland and UK, 87 minutes ). This is the kind of film that has a built-in guarantee of success with a middle- class audience. A man returns to the seaside village of his childhood. The film is based on a Booker Prize novel and is well-acted by a cast led by Ciaran Hinds. The Irish scenery is beautiful and there is plentiful sadness and nostalgia. The Sea will be endlessly ‘sold-out’ at Chapter matinees. ( to be continued ).

Philip Wyn Jones. Editor and reviewer.


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