10 to See at EIFF 2019

The 73rd Edinburgh International Film Festival is upon us, and we can’t wait to spend the next couple of weeks at the world’s oldest continually running celebration of cinema! To celebrate, here are our top 10 picks from the programme.

  1. Aniara

This existential sci-fi, based on the Nobel Prize-winning poem, follows a ship of settlers drifting off-course in the cosmos. Faced with almost certain death, society begins to break down as it confronts its inevitable annihilation. Joining High Life in the 2019 pantheon of ‘thinking-person’s sci-fi’, Aniara has already won high praise for its philosophy and commitment to the source material, although some have found it a depressive, hard watch. We’re thinking ‘more pessimistic High-Rise in space’.

2. Cage-A-Rama 3D

It’s not a new film, but we’re super excited about EIFF’s 3D Nicolas Cage double-bill! Starring one of the best, most misunderstood actors of our time in two of his most… erm…. lower-brow flicks, Matchbox Cinemaclub will present Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Drive Angry back to back in eye-popping three dimensions. Down a couple beers and get ready to experience some top-tier nonsense.

3. Skin

Guy Nattiv’s A24-released film about a reformed neo-Nazi has received wildly mixed reviews across the board but looks like a possible successor to American History X. Supposedly ultra-violent and uncompromising, the Jamie Bell vehicle is adapted from Nattiv’s own short film. Although that short wasn’t very promising, the feature-length adaptation, we hope, will be more impressive.

4. The Art of Self-Defence

This Jesse Eisenberg-starring black comedy about masculinity has won wild praise from critics during its initial festival screenings. Oft-compared to Nightcrawler and Fight Club, the film focuses on a man who takes up karate lessons in order to be able to defend himself, but, as he gets more confident, begins to be drawn into a violent underground world. Things, apparently, get very weird indeed.

5. Bait

This film about a Cornish village being overrun by tourists is intriguing principally because it was shot on B&W 16mm. Although it’ll likely be less beautiful than the similarly degraded The Lighthouse (shot on 35, though with a specially created lens filter to make the whole thing look like it shot straight out of a wormhole from the 1800’s), it’s always nice to see someone take on an anachronistic format like this. Prepare to enter an alternate dimension.

6. The Vast of Night

This odd-looking whatsit was praised by Steven Soderberg at its Slamdance premiere and looks very weird indeed. Claiming to be an episode from a Twilight Zone-esque TV-show, the film channels Cold War-era hysteria into an alien thriller set in 1950’s New Mexico. Expect mind-bending surprises.

7. Never Look Away

This 3-hour epic has already received titanic praise from the press. Based on the life of Gerhard Richter, the film is about art and the way in which it is intrinsically linked to the political landscape in which it is created. Although already released in the States, it’s exciting to finally be able to see Never Look Away in the UK at EIFF. We’re getting ready to think for 189 minutes.

8. X&Y

Anna Odell’s identity-exploring oddity stars herself and a host of high-brow Scandinavian talent as alternate versions of themselves, engaging in a sort of verbal/physical sparring session that has won the film buckets of critical praise. Expect meta shenanigans.

9. Bodies at Rest

There’s a strong Asian presence at this year’s festival, specifically South Korea and China. This Hong Kong actioner was selected to open Hong Kong International Film Festival and looks to be a lot of fun. We don’t expect it to hit the crazy heights of what was coming out of the region in the 90’s, but a cheesy slice of beat-em-up should be just the ticket in the middle of the festival.

10. Body at Brighton Rock

With one of the year’s most striking poster designs, Body at Brighton Rock follows a park ranger who has to supervise a corpse overnight in remote woodlands. Things do not go to plan. Although initial reviews from the films SXSW premiere have been mixed, we’re hoping that director Roxanne Benjamin can deliver the goods and has crafted an effectively frightening movie.

London Student will be covering the 73rd annual EIFF from the 17th June onward.


James is an undergraduate law student at UCL, and London Student's Chief Arts Editor/Film Editor. He wants you to know that Christopher Nolan is overrated.

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