New creative director and exciting programme for Edinburgh International Film Festival's 75th anniversary event

The world's oldest continually running film festival is celebrating its 75th anniversary this August by returning to a fully in-person programme in Scotland's capital city under the lead of a new creative director.

By Graham Chalmers
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 3:45 pm
New Creative Director Kristy Matheson follows in the footsteps of iconic artistic directors who helped build Edinburgh International Film Festival's world-wide reputation over the decades.
New Creative Director Kristy Matheson follows in the footsteps of iconic artistic directors who helped build Edinburgh International Film Festival's world-wide reputation over the decades.

Running from August 12-20, Edinburgh International Film Festival's 75th anniversary programme will bounce back after the challenges of the pandemic with 87 new features, 12 short film programmes, and two large scale retrospectives.

New Creative Director Kristy Matheson follows in the footsteps of iconic artistic directors who helped build Edinburgh International Film Festival's world-wide reputation over the decades.

The many names who have defined the festival's long-running success since it was founded in 1947 include the journalist Hannah McGill, who was artistic director from 2006 to 2010; critic Mark Cousins who made a big impact in a brief tenure from 1996-97 before becoming an award-winning filmmaker; and Jim Hickey who presided over a golden era from 1981 to 1988.

It can be argued that none of the above quite matched the impact of Linda Myles, who ran EIFF from 1973 to 1980 with stunning success on a small budget - the first woman to occupy such a role at any film festival in the world at the time.

As well as pioneering screenings of the cream of the then 'New Hollywood' such as Martin Scorsese, Myles also initiated a number of reappraisals and new viewpoints, notably "The Women's Event" which she organised with Claire Johnston and Laura Mulvey at the 1972 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

It's now the 50th anniversary of the women’s film festival presented by previous artistic director Linda Myles which recognised films made by female directors.

In recognition of this ground-breaking event, this year's EIFF will present Reframing The Gaze, a retrospective programme curated by Kim Knowles.

The festival's new creative director Kristy Matheson said she is excited to be taking a lead in this milestone anniversary year.

Ms Matheson said: “For our 75th anniversary, we’ve embraced the very essence of cinema - from its production to its exhibition, it’s a truly collective pursuit.

“Working alongside a talented team of programmers and festival producers to craft our 2022 programme has been joyous.

"I’m excited to share our programme with you today and look forward to welcoming audiences back to EIFF this August.”

Among the many gems screening this year Aftersun, the critically acclaimed debut from Scottish filmmaker Charlotte Wells starring Normal People’s Paul Mescal which won a Cannes Film Festival prize. and which will be the opening gala on August 12.

Other highlights at next month's festival will include Nude Tuesday, Armağan Ballantyne’s critically-acclaimed comedy Nude Tuesday which will be the inaugural Central Gala on August 16; and After Yang, starring Colin Farrell and Jodi Turner-Smith which will be the festival’s closing gala on August 20.

The programme, which boasts screenings at the festival's home at the Filmhouse on Lothian Road, and other venues including Cameo Picturehouse, Everyman Edinburgh and Vue Edinburgh Omni, will also showcase Peter Strickland’s latest film Flux Gourmet, starring 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.

There will be a major retrospective of the work of performer and film director Kinuyo Tanaka (1909-1977) who played an essential role in the history of Japanese cinema.

A must-see documentary is Still Working 9 to 5 which features trio Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as they reunite to investigate the fight for women’s rights they kickstarted half a decade ago.

Another highlight is Nothing Compares, Kathryn Ferguson’s documentary about iconic musician and singer and Sinead O’Connor.

Renowned for its commitment to internationalism and cultural engagement, the festival has always been about more than film screenings, there are also live performances and industry dialogues.

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

The event will also see the return of Film Fest in the City in St Andrew’s Square, which will feature film showings including classics such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Shrek, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival programme has been brought together by a team of programmers led by Kristy Matheson, alongside Kristy, the EIFF Programming Team consists of Manish Agarwal, Anna Bogutskaya, Rafa Sales Ross, Kate Taylor, Abigail Addison (animation programmer); Short Film Programmers – Jenny Clarke (narrative) Rohan Crickmar (non-fiction), Black Box Programmer – Lydia Beilby; Retrospective Curator (2022 Theme) Kim Knowles.

EIFF 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, the City of Edinburgh Council, EventScotland part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, and the BFI Audience Fund, awarding National Lottery funding.

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Chief amongst the filmmakers whose UK reputations the Festival helped establish was Ingmar Bergman, with UK premieres given over five consecutive Festivals between 1957 and 1961.

The Festival has been a champion of emerging British talent throughout its history, presenting world premieres of formative films by Bill Forsyth, Danny Boyle and Stephen Frears, among many others.

In the early 1970s, EIFF pioneered the retrospective with programmes on the likes of Douglas Sirk, Werner Herzog and Martin Scorsese, something which has become standard practice at film festivals all over the world.