Film, Foreign

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King of Devil's Island

17 Jul 20123 stars

Slow-burning but satisfying prison drama starring Stellan Skarsgård

There is a steely Dickensian sweep to King Of Devil’s Island, a grimly compelling dramatisation of true events from 1915. The notorious correctional facility for ‘maladjusted’ boys on Bastoy Island belongs to the pages of Oliver Twist. The desolate…

The Fairy

17 Jul 20123 stars

A knowing yet innocent absurdist love story from Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy

Directed by the Belgian-based mime artist trio Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy (the people behind 2008’s Rumba), this whimsical, Tati-esque fairytale plays like a live-action cartoon, albeit one filled with gawkily acrobatic human actors.

Nostalgia for the Light

17 Jul 20124 stars

Docu-drama focusing on the astrologers and Pinochet refugees occupying the Atacama desert

Still best known for the monumental 70s work The Battle of Chile, Patricio Guzman returns to the subject of his masterpiece. As the earlier film concentrated on the government of Allende and the Pinochet coup, so here Guzman goes to the Atacama desert…

The Players

11 Jul 20123 stars

Perky French comedy drama that brings together a series of short films about male infidelity

This perky French portmanteau sees Gilles Lellouche (Point Blank) and recent Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist) tackle the subject of male infidelity, as they assume a variety of predatory and buffoonish guises. The Players brings together short…


9 Jul 20124 stars

Elegiac story of the passionate life of Uruguayan poet Delmira Agustini

Based not so much on the life of Uruguayan poet Delmira Agustini so much as the moments where she faces crises of indecision, Christine Laurent’s fine film focuses almost exclusively on the emotions. Delmira (Laure de Clermont-Tonerre) is a woman who…

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The Women on the 6th Floor

9 Jul 20123 stars

Light and frothy upstairs/downstairs French comedy

Several stalwarts of European cinema retread familiar territory in this light-as-a-feather upstairs/downstairs comedy set in 1960s Paris. The story exists in that broad and cartoonish realm that seems to be the exclusive domain of middle class French…

Sleepless Night

9 Jul 20124 stars

Accomplished South Korean drama about a young, married couple

A minor but nuanced account of a couple moving forward in their lives. Two years into their marriage, struggling to get by financially, with the wife a yoga/pilates teacher and the husband working long hours in a factory and expected to do overtime for…


26 Jun 20124 stars

Idiosyncratic Philippine drama about an aristocratic family in decline

This portrait of an aristocratic Philippine family in decline combines the weighty thematic concerns of Chekhov with the heightened melodramatic performance style of daytime television soap operas. When Gaspar, the elderly family patriarch and former…

Gaspar Noe on 7 Days in Havana - interview

25 Jun 2012

The French provocateur is one of seven directors contributing to the film

One of the highlights of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, 7 Days In Havana, is an anthology movie set around the Cuban capital, inspired by the likes of Paris je t’aime and New York, I Love You. As the title suggests, seven filmmakers…

Philippine New Wave: This is Not A Film Movement

22 Jun 20123 stars

An illustrated oral history of the vibrant Philippine independent filmmaking scene

If you’re looking for an introduction to the largest – and, arguably, the most exciting – of the several new sections introduced into the EIFF programme this year by debuting artistic director Chris Fujiwara, you could do no worse than take check out…

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Fukushima: Memories of the Lost Landscape

22 Jun 20124 stars

Empathetic and beautiful documentary about those living in the aftermath of Japan’s 2011 tsunami

Opening with terrifying footage recorded in the filmmaker’s own flat during the 2011 Japanese tsunami, this thoughtful, softly empathetic film then tours the damaged lands around the Fukushima nuclear plant. Along the way it documents stoicism…

Philippine New Wave

21 Jun 2012

A closer look at the spirited, ambitious and brilliantly diverse films emerging from the Philippines

The largest of several new sections introduced into the EIFF programme this year by new artistic director Chris Fujiwara, Philippine New Wave also looks like being by far the most exciting. Aside from their country of origin, what the 11 features (and…


21 Jun 20123 stars

Charming but occasionally repetitive comedy from Japan

Sayoko (Mikako Ichikawa) has a knack for attracting cats. She has so many around her house that she starts renting them out to lonely fellow citizens in need of a little companionship. What nobody knows about Sayoko (except for her exceptionally blunt…

Mondomanila, or: How I Fixed My Hair After A Rather Long Journey

21 Jun 20124 stars

Wild and extreme pseudo-documentary about the Filipino capital’s underclass

Khavn De La Cruz’s Mondomanila, or: How I Fixed My Hair After A Rather Long Journey has got to be a contender for the wildest film of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. Based on the Norman Wilwayco’s cult novel, Mondomanila is, as its…

Silent Souls

14 Jun 20124 stars

A beautiful, beguiling, dreamy and mystifying drama from director Aleksei Fedorchenko

Following the death of the beloved wife of his friend Miron, Aist joins the bereaved man on a trip to transport the dead woman from their small town to the shore of Lake Nero in western Russia, where her body is to be cremated. This, along with several…

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Where Do We Go Now?

14 Jun 20124 stars

A mix of drama, comedy and musical numbers from Lebanese auteur Nadine Labaki

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki’s debut Caramel was an excellent slice-of-life comedy that offered a human and humorous perspective on contemporary life in Beirut. For her second film she takes ambitious leaps on all fronts, mixing intense drama, broad…


13 Jun 20123 stars

A beautiful but often impenetrable metaphysical drama from Turkish filmmaker Reha Erdem

An icy blast of metaphysical Turkish drama, Reha Erdem’s beautiful, often impenetrable Kosmos delights and frustrates in equal measures. With a growing reputation on the European festival circuit, and as a commercials director, Erdem has constructed a…

The Giants

12 Jun 20123 stars

A meandering and melancholic story of two boys and one not-so-idyllic summer

From the moment The Giants sparks up with Joy Division’s No Love Lost, Belgium-born Bouli Lanners’ story of two teenage brothers and their friend has a rebellious streak to it. Set across one not-so-idyllic summer, Zak (Zacharie Chasseriaud) and Seth…


1 Jun 20123 stars

Earnest but morose drama set against the backdrop of the 2011 tsunami

Set shortly after the 2011 Japanese tsunami and ensuing Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster, Himizu considers the consequences of parental and governmental irresponsibility through its story of two troubled teens. Based on Minoru Furuya’s manga of…

Edinburgh Film Festival 2012 programme launched

30 May 2012

Chris Fujiwara reveals extensive world cinema programme for EIFF 2012

This year the Edinburgh International Film Festival's new director, Chris Fujiwara, has devised a brave and eclectic programme in an attempt to return the festival to its former glory. With a similar format to previous years - with several strands…

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Cannes 2012: Amour

28 May 20124 stars

Deeply sad and affecting film from Michael Haneke, and winner of the 2012 Palme D’Or

Unlike The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke’s Palme D’Or winning film from 2009), which stands out for its thematic and narrative complexities, Amour sees the Austrian director take a far simpler approach to filmmaking, with an intimate story of an elderly…

Holy Motors

28 May 20124 stars

Hugely satisfying and inventive celebration of cinema from Leos Carax

Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) is picked up by his driver Celine (Edith Scob) for a day’s work - 9 appointments that will take him across Paris and into the paths of an array of characters. If that sounds vague, it’s deliberate - to say anymore would…

She Monkeys

23 May 20124 stars

Impressive coming-of-age drama with frank depiction of adolescent sexuality

A courageous, periodically unsettling coming-of-age tale, She Monkeys is the arresting first feature from director Lisa Aschan. It’s a Swedish production which - in its frank approach to adolescent sexuality - bears comparison with Katell Quillévéré’s…


16 May 20123 stars

Sprawling French ensemble drama that veers between compelling and ridiculous

This sprawling ensemble film, which tracks the harrowing daily routines of a Parisian Child Protection Unit, veers wildly between the compelling and the ridiculous. Scripted and directed by Maiwenn, with Emmaneulle Bercot acting as co-writer, it shifts…

The Turin Horse

16 May 20124 stars

Hard-going but profoundly rewarding piece of arthouse cinema from Bela Tarr

This mournful fable isn’t exactly going to win a whole new crossover audience for Hungary’s master of arthouse tough love, Béla Tarr, but it’s a compelling, vividly realised addition to his unique oeuvre. As a father and daughter scrabble for a living…