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Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011: Closing Thoughts

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So another year has come and gone at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the world’s longest continually running film festival. This year’s extensive line-up was as pleasingly diverse and eclectic as ever, with everywhere from the UK and US to France, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Norway, Poland, Brazil, Japan and South Korea among the countries cinematically represented. They really strive every year to earn than “International” label.

Due to some behind the scenes issues the festival was admittedly “toned down” this year, with an evident lack of major films – in previous years the likes of The Hurt Locker, Moon, and WALL-E had screenings at the festival. However, as always, a film festival is what you make of it and there was still plenty of great stuff to see.

EIFF 2011 promo imageI managed to squeeze in 26 films in my 10 days of the festival; some days I saw two, others I saw four. But of all the films I saw there were a few no-brainer highlights.

After some deliberation I have decided on André Øvredal’s wonderful Norwegian found-footage monster movie Troll Hunter as my absolute personal favourite. Mixing a tongue-in-cheek tone with genuinely thrilling action (chase) scenes and breathtaking special effects that, at times, would put the most expensive of Hollywood blockbusters to shame. This is the one film from the festival (if had to pick only one) I would say is destined to be a cult classic in years to come.

My other highlights include Niall MacCormick’s funny, touching, and all-round well observed comedy-drama Albatross, sure to be the darling Brit flick of the year; Céline Sciamma’s subtle yet powerful Tomboy; Project Nim, James Marsh’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning Man on Wire, is a fascinating insight into human-animal communication; Shut Up Little Man!: An Audio Misadventure which tells a hilarious true story more pertinent now than ever; the absolutely bizarre yet wholly enjoyable Spanish clown film The Last Circus; and David Mackenzie’s haunting Perfect Sense, the one film which, more than any other, had me thinking about it for long afterwards.

Unfortunately the law of averages says that when you see as many films as I did in a relatively short period of time you’re bound to get some disappointments (to say the least). The biggest disappointment for me was Stormhouse, a supernatural horror/thriller with an intriguing premise which wastes it on silly jump scares and needless gore. Other let-downs include Elite Squad 2, the sequel to what was one of my favourites of the festival a couple of years back – it’s not bad just not as good as I was hoping/expecting; and Weekender, one of the most highly anticipated films of the fest, was not the film I was hoping it to be.

EIFF 2011 promo image2Unfortunately there is a level lower than “disappointment” as this year’s festival did have its share of flat-out bad films. Nicolás Goldbart’s Phase 7, a mix of sci-fi, comedy and action was a total mess, trying to be several different things at once and failing quite miserably; and the American-set supernatural thriller The Caller took a brilliant premise and wasted it on being completely ridiculous. However, without a doubt the worst film I saw at the festival was Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr’s French “romance” American Translation, a film so horribly pretentious, monotonous, and annoying that it was downright painful to sit through. When about a third of the audience members actually get up and leave at various stages throughout you know the film isn’t good!

Fortunately the good outweighed the bad at the festival this year, with a handful of films in particular I will be very much looking forward to watching again (and again and again…) down the road. As always covering a film festival is exhausting at times but always fun.

I hope you enjoyed the coverage – you can read all of my reviews right here in one handy place. And be sure and keep an eye out this time next year for my coverage of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2012!

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About Ross Miller

  • Robert Stitson

    Good to read some of your comments on what you enjoyed and didn’t. I managed to see a lot of the same films as you this year and had quite similar opinions. I was slightly gutted to miss American Translation, but after reading your comments i’m not particularly upset!

    Did you manage to see Our Day Will Come? My personal favourite from the week.

  • @Robert Stitson,

    Did you see the films as press? If so what site do you write for? Yeah don’t be upset at all you missed American Translation – absolutely terrible, pretentious film.

    I did see Our Day Will Come – I liked it, mainly for Vincent Cassell (who I will watch in anything), but overall I didn’t really get what it was trying to say. What other films were your highlights, out of curiosity?

  • Robert Stitson

    Sorry for the epicly late reply. I did see the press shows for a lot of the films but don’t write for anyone.

    Highlights – Troll Hunter (obviously).
    The Guard was excellent although I had to watch it again to fully appreciate it as the Festival Theatre echoed like a cavern.
    Arrietty was very good, though the classical Britishness of the story took away from the beautifully traditional Japanese mythology that Ghibli portrays so well.
    Also really enjoyed French hard-boiled detective drama On the Shore and Perfect Sense and Angels Crest were both well made and interesting conceptually though slightly disappointing overall.

    Sure theres more.