10 films to watch at the 2022 Edinburgh International Film Festival
Returning to its traditional August slot after nearly 15 years and to an all-in-person format after two years, the Edinburgh International Film Festival (August 12-20, 2022) marks its 75th edition this year and the event inaugural under new creative director Kristy Matheson.
Along with a revamped central competition, the Powell and Pressburger Award for Best Feature Film, and a new audience-friendly program structure, the festival’s retrospectives include an examination of the feminist legacy of the women’s event from 1972 to EIFand a season about Japanese performer and director Kinuyo Tanaka (1909 to 1977).
Elsewhere, Peter Strickland is back with kink-filled Flux Gourmet; Jemaine Clément tells everything in the EIF Central Gala, Naked Tuesday; Leila Hatami falls in love in the streets of Tehran in Imagine; and Park So-dam drives criminals at breakneck speed in the automotive thriller Special Delivery.
Director Kogonada has personally curated Carte Blanche, a selection of films offering insight into the inspirations for his meditative sci-fi After Yang, which will close this year’s festival. Carte Blanche will see special screenings of Irma Vep (1996), After Life (1998) and Your Name (2016).
To help you find your way through this year’s bountiful selection, the programming team at EIF picked out some personal highlights. And, if this list has piqued your curiosity, there’s plenty more to chew on in this year’s full schedule.
For his feature debut, lawyer-turned-filmmaker David Easteal has made a formally audacious film, which offers a unique examination of contemporary Australian society through the eyes of a singular protagonist. On his daily commute, Andrew alleviates traffic jams by calling his mother and wife. Occasionally he gives his younger colleague (played by Easteal himself) a lift and through these interactions, which span the mundane, philosophical and quietly ambitious, we construct an image of Andrew. A deceptively simple film, Easteal’s critically acclaimed debut rewards those who invest in its cumulative approach with an ultimately touching experience.
Nana (before now & So)
Kamila Andini has delighted international festival audiences with stories of young people navigating the world in films such as The Seen and Unseen (2017) and Yuni (2021), but for his latest film, the director switches gears, delivering a Intoxicating period drama about the unlikely yet deeply moving friendship between two women in Indonesia’s politically turbulent post-independence years. After its premiere in official competition at the Berlinale 2022, UK audiences are ready to see one of this year’s most lavish films, steeped in ghosts, memories and quiet passions.
The narrow road
World premiere at EIF 2022, Lam Sum’s feature debut is further proof that films are much more than their plots, with the Hong Kong director conjuring tender and unerringly charming drama out of a potentially depressing plot. Struggling small business owner Chak (Cantopop singer Louis Cheung) hires young single mother Candy (rising star Angela Yuen) to help him with his industrial cleaning business, but their bond is put on hold. tested by the challenges of working through the covid-19 pandemic. Unsentimental yet optimistic in its portrayal of a chosen family going through hard times, The Narrow Road is beautifully acted and offers stunning nighttime photographs of a most cinematic city.
Can charismatic actor Pablo forget his ex-boyfriend? How is it possible to construct borders? Did you know pop star Ke$ha slept with a ghost? This beyond-the-charm Chilean comedy-drama follows the journeys of a haunted vintage cardigan, exploring the burning concerns of a circle of queer creatives in contemporary Santiago. At 30, at a standstill in his career and his love, Pablo searches for a sign, but when his roommate moves out and he stays with the dog, houseplants and chic mystical knitwear, what does can a guy do? Shaggy, supernatural and contemporary, the vibes of Roberto Doveris’ second feature are irresistible.
This poignant documentary by Swedish-born, Glasgow-based director Marie Lidén sheds light on a case of electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), the medically challenged but nonetheless debilitating condition that Better Call Saul fans will remember affected Michael McKean’s character, Chuck. The subject of Electric Malady, William, is a Swedish man in his forties whose symptoms have become so severe that he now lives in tragic isolation in the countryside, shrouded in ghostly blankets to protect himself from the radiation emitted by modern technology. Using a hand-cranked 16mm camera to get closer to him safely, Lidén’s deeply empathetic investigation was prompted by a personal experience: his mother also suffered from EHS.
Licht – The Legacy of Stockhausen
Watching Licht’s staging, an “unstaged opera,” is like watching a horror movie for artists. Produce a 29-hour performance featuring 500 performers, including a string quartet in four separate helicopters, you say? And of course, this documentary captures all the ego boosts you’d expect, as well as being an archival-rich introduction to the atonal music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. A pioneer of a radical polyamorous lifestyle, the composer also emerges as a man who inspired intense devotion in talented women, while inflicting devastating cruelty on his offspring. That makes it a fascinating addition to a favorite micro-genre: movies that ask “what happens when geniuses have kids?”
Physical and metaphorical structures are juxtaposed in Abner Benaim’s visceral drama Plaza Catedral. The sharp angles of a staircase trap stern architect Alicia (Ilse Salas) the night she finds a bloodied boy on the steps leading to her apartment. Spaces contract and expand as the two prance around each other, the heaviness of life’s many burdens contrasting with the aching lightness of emotional emptiness. It is a deeply effective, yet heartbreaking dance, grounded in painful realism by the central performances, which lend a moving tangibility to this refined examination of violence and grief.
Most university students would welcome an impromptu visit from their parents after a long period of separation. Fereshteh (Sadaf Asgari), however, is far from your usual student: she recently gave birth to a baby girl in the greatest secrecy of her family. Ali Asgari’s piercing second feature follows the young mother as she rushes through the bustling streets of Tehran in an anxiety-inducing battle against time. This well-crafted drama cleverly harnesses classic thriller tropes to turn a daycare dilemma into a biting reflection on gender roles and motherhood in contemporary Iranian society. The result is a thrilling and illuminating feat.
Expectant mother Valeria (Natalia Solián) begins to have frightening visions of faceless figures, hearing bones cracking all around and spiders everywhere. These visions don’t affect anyone else, and her partner and her doctors are quick to say that it’s all in her head. After the birth of her child, Valeria takes a trip back to her old life and all the things she chose to leave behind. A truly terrifying horror, director Michelle Garza Cervera takes the jitters and nerves of first-time motherhood and crafts a story of universal fear: the fear of losing one’s own identity.
Have pity on me!
Amanda Kramer is a rare kind of filmmaker. Completely unique, watching one of her films (and she has two at the festival this year) is like stepping into another universe. In Pity Me! we are welcome to the pity party of a lonely waving wife TV starring Sissy St Claire (Sophie von Haselberg). She gives us song and dance numbers, a stand-up show, and even a deranged, knife-wielding stalker. A glittery, disco-infused mushroom trip from a movie, Give Me Pity! is utterly spellbinding and unlike any other film you’ll find at the festival.