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Lights, camera, action… EIFF is coming soon

Photo credit: EIFF

This June the great and good of international cinema will flock to Edinburgh for the celebrated Edinburgh International Film Festival. Here’s why you should come too.

Robert Carlyle as a demon hairdresser. A children’s fable narrated by Dustin Hoffman. Cinema for every taste and time, from American cult classics to experimental shorts. The brightest Hollywood stars and the freshest emerging talent. Writers, directors, animators, actors and 40,000 cinema-lovers from across the world. It can only be the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Launched in 1947, EIFF is the oldest continually-running film festival in the world. Intimate in scale but ambitious in scope, the Festival has earned international acclaim for its unbridled celebration of the love of the moving image. Last year, it screened a staggering 156 films from 47 countries, including 11 world premieres.

Carlyle calls the shots

EIFF 2015 runs from 17–28 June, and though the full line-up is yet to be revealed, it’s sure to kick off with a bang, as Robert Carlyle unveils his directorial debut to his home crowd.

Famed for his roles in Trainspotting, The World Is Not Enough, 28 Weeks Later and The Full Monty, Carlyle gets behind the camera for the first time in The Legend of Barney Thomson, which has been chosen as the EIFF 2015 opening film. The dark comedy stars Carlyle as a socially awkward hairdresser who merrily embarks on a new career as a serial killer. Co-starring Emma Thompson and Ray Winstone, the film is based on Douglas Lindsay’s book The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson.

Talent development

Over the years, the EIFF has premiered such notable films as Frances Ha, The Story of Wikileaks, Brave, The Hurt Locker, Let The Right One In, An Inconvenient Truth and Billy Elliot. The attendance list is a ‘who’s who’ of modern cinema, as demonstrated by American Airlines coming on board as official partner, to “fly in the stars from Hollywood to Edinburgh”. Yet make no mistake, EIFF is not just a luvvy event for the big and beautiful of film. It’s also a melting pot of ideas and opportunities, with a strong talent development and educational outreach programme.

Talent development initiatives such as the four-day Talent Lab, online development strand EIFF Network and competitions like the EIFF Short Film Challenge provide unrivalled opportunities for aspiring filmmakers to hone their craft and get their work seen. The EIFF also runs a very popular schools programme supported by a new Youth Hub offering workshops, masterclasses and careers advice for 16-26 year olds.

Film Studies at Edinburgh

All this is fertile ground for film education, and Edinburgh Summer School’s own filmmaking course makes the most of its prestigious neighbour. The four-week, 20 credit course ‘Film Studies and the Edinburgh International Film Festival’ gives students the opportunity to put their learning into practice.

While the first half of the course focuses on the central principles of film criticism, theory and philosophy, the second half sees students given delegate passes to attend premieres, press screenings, industry events and public lectures, beginning with the Opening Night Gala. Tutorials after each screening will help students to link the academic concepts with real-life industry practice, and the course also includes a practical writing workshop to develop screenwriting skills.

So whether you’re a committed cinephile, an arts student looking to extend your learning, or simply an international student looking to sample some of Edinburgh’s legendary summer spirit, this is a pretty good place to start.