Danny Boyle Q&A and 18 world premieres among film festival highlights

A celebration of the work of female film-makers and a special appearance by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle are among the highlights of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF).

British director Boyle, behind such hits as the Edinburgh-set Shallow Grave and Trainspotting films, will appear at an “in person” event to discuss his career.

Two screenings of his new musical comedy Yesterday, from a script by Richard Curtis, will also take place early in the festival’s run from June 19-30.

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In total, this year’s festival will screen 121 new features from 42 countries, including 18 feature film world premieres and 78 UK premieres.

The programme for the 2019 EIFF – the 73rd outing of the festival founded just after the Second World War – was launched in the Scottish capital on Wednesday by artistic director Mark Adams.

He said: “We are thrilled to be able to finally announce the full programme for this year’s festival.

“We are really delighted to be able to stage such a rich and diverse group of films that really do offer something for everybody.”

The festival will open with Boyz in the Wood, described as a “great new voice in Scottish cinema”, and draws to a close with Mrs Lowry & Son.

The closing night’s film, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall, tells the story of the relationship between the artist L.S. Lowry and his controlling mother.

Toy Story 4 festival screening
Toy Story 4 festival screening

A special screening of the Pixar animation Toy Story 4 will also be shown on Sunday June 16, five days ahead of its release in UK cinemas and three days before the festival officially opens.

Popular free outdoor screenings will return to St Andrew Square ahead of the festival’s official launch, with classics such as Groundhog Day, When Harry Met Sally and The Greatest Showman among the movies on show.

The festival will have a real European flavour this year, with a particular emphasis on Spain, as it aims to reflect the “changing face” of society and culture.

It will explore the country’s rich cinematic history through retrospectives and a celebration of the work of writer, actor and film-maker Iciar Bollain.

Almost 43% of all the feature films and short films in the programme have a female director, while some others have a predominantly female crew.

One of the documentaries in the line-up is This Changes Everything, which examines the problems faced by women film-makers and features interviews with Hollywood stars Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Taraji P. Henson, Reese Witherspoon and Cate Blanchett.

Other documentaries include Memory: The Origins of Alien, an examination of the making of Alien, and Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk, narrated by former golf caddie Bill Murray.

British documentary film-maker Nick Broomfield will also discuss his career at an in-person event.

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The European Perspectives strand of the programme, will celebrate the importance of European cinema and includes films from France, Ireland, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Croatia, Germany, North Macedonia, Greece, Ukraine, Switzerland, Belgium, Georgia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland.

Meanwhile, the American Dreams section offers audiences a provocative group of films from across the pond, including the world premiere of Liberté: A Call to Spy and the international premiere of the dark mystery I See You, starring Helen Hunt.

There will also be a Nicolas Cage extravaganza featuring three of his films in 3D and an inaugural strand of special culinary screenings and events.

Mr Adams said he is “thrilled” to be opening with the “raucous” Boyz in the Wood and ending with Mrs Lowry & Son.

He welcomed Boyle’s forthcoming attendance at the EIFF, saying: “He really wanted to make it (to Edinburgh) because he started his film-making career with Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, which are very much Edinburgh films.

“It’s great that Danny is here, he’s such a wonderful talker and a great advocate for cinema.”

He said the EIFF, and other festivals, have been working hard to showcase the work of women film-makers but added it can only reflect what the industry has to offer.

Mr Adams said: “We are also delighted to be able to present a series of striking new films from women directors and film-making teams from around the world.

“In particular this year we have an amazing selection of genre films from women film-makers, ranging from Gothic romance and Western chills through to science fiction and old-fashioned horror.

“All this set alongside a tribute to French film-maker Agnes Varda, a women who has inspired generations of directors.”

He added: “It is always important that EIFF reflects the changing face of all aspects of society and culture.

“With attitudes changing throughout the world it is important that this year the festival has a real European spin and presents a series of wonderful films from around Europe, with a particular emphasis on Spain this year.”