Various Venues, Wed 15 – Sun 26 Jun 2016

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is almost upon us, and once again offers a bewildering mix of new work and acknowledged classics presented in a way you may not have seen before.

Proceedings open on Wednesday 15th June with the opening gala presentation of Jason Connery’s Tommy’s HonourAn intimate examination of a father and son relationship against the backdrop of the early days of competitive golf may look like a slightly reserved choice for an opening night, especially compared to the raucous, rambunctious delights of last year’s curtain-raiser, The Legend of Barney Thompson, but with the ever-dependable Peter Mullan, plus veterans like Sam Neill and new talent such as Ophelia Lovibond involved, it could well be a crowd-pleaser.

Sure to be a huge attraction is the 70/70 Vision strand, which sees four classics screened in ravishing 70mm prints.  2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia, Jacques Tati’s PlayTime, and Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese-Soviet curiosity Dersu Uzala are the epics to be screened.

Also a must is a retrospective of Cinema du Look.  A loose movement of Gallic post-punky sass and excess, this strand presents films from three key exponents, Leos Carax (The Night is Young, and Lovers on the Bridge), Luc Besson (Subway, The Big Blue, and Nikita), and Jean-Jacques Beineix (Betty Blue and Diva).  The star of Diva, Dominique Pinon will also be discussing his career In Person, encompassing classics like Delicatessen, Amelie, and an appearance in strained-bodice time-travel hokum Outlander.

Standing out among a crowded field are a few eye-catching premieres.  The Disney-Pixar juggernaut barrels on with the long-mooted sequel Finding Dory, and ticket sales were, to say the least, brisk, mere minutes after going on sale.  Vampire mockumentary What we do in the Shawdows was a huge hit on the festival circuit a few years back, and Taika Waititi follows this instant classic with the poignant, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, starring the seemingly ubiquitous Sam Neill.  Ageing gob-shite provocateur Kevin Smith is back with Yoga Hosers, which will surely be worth a look just to see if it’s as bad as the truly transcendentally awful Tusk.

There are potential gems aplenty for those looking to dip their toes in waters.  The European Perspectives strand features such interesting propositions as Black, a take on Romeo and Juliet set in Brussels, an Estonian black-comedy (Mother), Gérard Depardieu going all Sideways in a vino-drenched road trip (Saint Amour), and a Polish musical fairytale (The Lure).  The Focus on Finland strand demonstrates there is more to that country’s film industry than Aki Kaurismaki, and the Black Box strand focuses on the avant grade and experimental.

The festival concludes with a closing gala featuring Gillies MacKinnon’s somewhat risky remake of the much-loved Whisky Galore! (going as far as to retain the exclamation mark).  Featuring the likes of Eddie Izzard and home-grown stalwarts Gregor Fisher and James Cosmo, we can only hope this new version mines the same charming vein as the original, and avoids the pitfalls of countless other unnecessary remakes.