Edinburgh International Film Festival 2022 is full on for 75th anniversary celebrations

Kristy Matheson: New creative director of Edinburgh International Film Festival

EDINBURGH International Film Festival marks its 75th anniversary with a return to a full programme from August 12 to 20 under the leadership of a new creative director.

Back in tandem with the Scottish capital’s myriad festivals this month, the world’s oldest continually running film festival presents 87 new features, 12 short film programmes and two retrospectives in a resumption of a full-on, in-person event after the restrictions and challenges of the pandemic.

Newly at the helm is Kristy Matheson, a creative director looking to make her mark as she follows a raft of artistic directors that established and grew Edinburgh International Film Festival’s global clout.

Among those who contributed to the festival’s long-running success since its foundation in 1947 were journalist and film critic Hannah McGill, artistic director from 2006 to 2010; Mark Cousins, who made a big impact in all-too-brief tenure from 1996 to 1997 before blossoming into an award-winning documentary filmmaker, and Jim Hickey, who steered a golden era from 1981 to 1988.

Before that came Linda Myles, who ran EIFF with remarkable success on a small budget from 1973 to 1980, when she was first woman to occupy such a role at any film festival worldwide.

Not only did she pioneer screenings of the cream of the “New Hollywood” filmmakers of the day, such as Martin Scorsese, but Myles also initiated reappraisals and new viewpoints, most notably “The Women’s Event”, organised in tandem with Claire Johnston and Laura Mulvey at the 1972 EIFF.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the women’s film festival presented by Myles to showcase films made by female directors. In recognition of this ground-breaking event, this summer’s EIFF will play host to Reframing The Gaze, a retrospective programme curated by Kim Knowles.

Kristy Matheson, previously director of film at Australia’s national museum of screen culture, ACMI, is thrilled to be propelling EIFF’s milestone anniversary year. “For our 75th anniversary, we’ve embraced the very essence of cinema: from its production to its exhibition, it’s a truly collective pursuit,” says the creative director.

“Working alongside a talented team of programmers and festival producers to craft our 2022 programme has been joyous. I look forward to welcoming audiences back to EIFF this August.”

The opening gala screening on August 12 will be a home-made product: Aftersun, the debut from Scottish filmmaker Charlotte Wells starring Normal People’s Paul Mescal, that heads homewards buoyed by prize-winning success at Cannes Film Festival.

Further highlights to note are Armağan Ballantyne’s comedy Nude Tuesday, picked for the inaugural Central Gala on August 16, and  After Yang, an American metaphysical science-fiction drama written and directed by Kogonada, starring Colin Farrell and Jodi Turner-Smith in the closing gala on August 20.

Look out too for Peter Strickland’s latest work, Flux Gourmet, featuring Asa Butterfield and Gwendoline Christie in the darkly comic tale of a performance art trio participating in an artist residency at the Sonic Catering Institute.

Screenings will take place at the festival’s home on Lothian Road, the Filmhouse, the Cameo Picturehouse, Everyman Edinburgh and Vue Edinburgh Omni.

The second major retrospective will focus on the work of performer and film director Kinuyo Tanaka (1909-1977), who played a key role in the history of Japanese cinema.

Further recommendations are Still Working 9 To 5, a documentary wherein Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin reunite to investigate the fight for women’s rights they kickstarted half a decade ago, and Nothing Compares, Kathryn Ferguson’s documentary about iconoclastic Irish singer Sinead O’Connor.

Renowned for its commitment to internationalism and cultural engagement, EIFF embraces more than film screenings, taking in performances and industry dialogues too.

Presented as a special live performance, The Ballad Of A Great Disordered Heart is a new collaborative film by Lau folk musician Aidan O’Rourke, Becky Manson and former EIFF artistic director Mark Cousins about Edinburgh’s Old Town and the Irish communities who have called it home.

The 2022 festival sees the return of Film Fest In The City in St Andrew’s Square, where the open-air programme offers classics such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Shrek and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This year’s programme has been brought together by a team of programmers led by Matheson, working alongside Manish Agarwal, Anna Bogutskaya, Rafa Sales Ross, Kate Taylor; animation programmer Abigail Addison; short film programmers Jenny Clarke (narrative) and Rohan Crickmar (non-fiction); black box programmer  Lydia Beilby and retrospective curator (2022 Theme) Kim Knowles.

Edinburgh International Film Festival is supported by Screen Scotland; the PLACE Programme (a partnership between the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Festivals); the Scottish Government, through the Festivals Expo Fund and the PLACE Resilience Fund; City of Edinburgh Council; EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, and the BFI Audience Fund, awarding National Lottery funding.

For tickets and programme details, head to www.edfilmfest.org.uk/

Two Big Egos In A Small Car culture vulture podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson will preview the 2022 Edinburgh International Film Festival in the next episode before squeezing their egos into that compact automobile to head to Scotland next week.