Edinburgh International Film Festival 2012 – My Best of the Fest

I went to the Edinburgh International Film Festival for the third consecutive year, and although the general consensus seems to be that new artistic director Chris Fujiwara steered it back in the right direction after 2011’s low-budget-no-carpet-no-deals worries, it wasn’t quite as exciting for me (see my overview of EIFF 2011).

That said, there were still some great films, so here’s my personal Best of the Fest.

IMDb 7.2 / RT (not enough reviews yet)

Pro: Cats everywhere, all the time.
Con: More like a series of short films.
Overall: Funny, charming, enjoyable in the ways it defies convention, and did I mention, cats everywhere.

Wu Xia / Dragon / Swordsmen
IMDb 7.0 / RT (not enough reviews yet)

Pro: A brilliantly conceived and executed combined crime-scene-investigation/fight scene.
Con: Seems a bit like an imperfectly edited adaptation of a more complicated novel, but apparently it isn’t.
Overall: Although it peaks early (see ‘Pro’), it remains a consistently surprising and entertaining take on some of the tropes of the genre.

IMDb 6.1 / RT 77%

Pro: A delightfully varied horror anthology, creepy in some places, ghost-pigeon insane in others.
Con: The misogynistic tone and slow build of the opening half-hour.
Overall: Worth sitting through the irritating opening for the goodness inside, particularly at the very end. Don’t watch the trailer more than once.

Berberian Sound Studio
IMDb 7.0 (27 votes) / RT 100% (from 15 reviews)

Pro: Does some extraordinarily powerful things with sounds and silence.
Con: Could have gone in a number of directions, ultimately opts for perhaps the least interesting of those.
Overall: If you like the trailer, you’ll love the film.

The Making of Longbird
The winner of the animation category, as well as my personal favourite. Despite seeing a lot of impressive different animation styles across the whole animation strand, the simple joy of a silly-looking character speaking with a weirdly fitting voice was just impossible to beat:

Every year we’ve attended some or all of the ‘Black Box’ experimental short film screenings curated by Kim Knowles, and these are always fascinating and memorable. For me, this year’s most most powerful selection was the 28.5-minute long ‘Vexed’ by Telcosystems. Unusually, Kim warned the audience in advance that this would be a particularly intense experience, which heightened our expectations, and we were not disappointed.

As the film progressed, I formed the impression that I was pushing through the edge of the universe, passing through layers of quantum foam, tuning my way systematically through 10 dimensions, uncertain if I would find anything on the other side, knowing that every minute spent pressing further added years to the return journey should I choose to make it, and at every moment I felt imbued with purpose and fulfillment. And there’s not many films you can say that about.

You can see some of it in this video, in between the interview segments that I can’t understand: