The 2011 Edinburgh International Film Festival today unveiled a fresh programme mix for its 65th year, packed with screenings, new events, collaborations and innovative film experiences for the city –the first fruits of a plan to invigorate the Festival for modern audiences.

Promising an inclusive celebration of cinema for all, a strong core of diverse new film from Britain and around the globe will this year be part of a broad and engaging programme that includes:-

Thought-provoking ideas: screenings, debates and events that delve deep into the power of film in areas such as conflict and science

Experimental events: 24-hour debates, cinema recreations in public spaces, ‘Cineconcerts’ with live music, and live video game performances

Distinctive collaborations: screening the film favourites of some of the most creative minds in film, music and the arts, plus partnerships with the pioneers of the film and digital world

Cinema experiences: outdoor screenings in public spaces, gallery exhibitions and even bike powered mobile cinema

Organisers believe that bringing the EIFF’s historic role as a pioneer to the fore and driving a re-think of its format and programme are essential to assure Edinburgh’s place as a leading festival over time.

Over 60 International, European and UK feature premieres continue EIFF’s commitment to showcasing the best new cinema, kicking off on opening night with the UK premiere of John Michael McDonagh’s brilliant Irish comedy-thriller The Guard (starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle) at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

Other international features include the UK premieres of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s much anticipated directorial debut Jack Goes Boating; Keith Bearden’s entertainingly risqué new film Meet Monica Velour (starring Kim Cattrall); Steven Silver’s true life combat drama The Bang Bang Club (starring Ryan Phillipe) and Paul Fraser’s poignant My Brothers. European highlights include Alex de la Iglesia’s dark and dazzling The Last Circus; Norwegian director Andre Ovredal’s hotly-tipped mock doc The Troll Hunter; Baldvin Zophoníasson’s coming of age feature Jitters, and the European premiere of Pascal Arnold’s and Jean Marc Barr’s American Translation.

EIFF started life in 1947 with an all-documentary programme and the 65th edition celebrates those roots, with a third of the programme paying tribute to the genre, including ten joint UK premieres presented in a new collaboration with the Sheffield International Documentary Festival. A slate of new work is led by the European premieres of Liz Garbus’ portrait of the chess legend Bobby Fischer Against the World; Jamaican filmmaker Esther Anderson’s kaleidoscopic Bob Marley: The Making of a Legend; and Morgan Neville’s celebration of a golden age of American music Troubadours.  Alma Harel’s artistically innovative and award-winning Bombay Beach also features, while Jarred Alterman’s portrait of a visionary artistic community Convento will see the director and protagonist Christiaan Zwanikken presenting an accompanying exhibition of kinetic sculpture from the film.

Amongst the eight UK documentary premieres are Peter Gilbert’s powerful study of climate change Burning Ice (starring Ryuichi Sakamoto, Marcus Brigstocke, Jarvis Cocker, K.T. Tunstall and Martha Wainwright); Jeanie Findlay’s Sound it Out which charts the journey of one of the UK’s last surviving vinyl record shops; and the joint UK premiere of Danfung Dennis’ incredible double Sundance winner Hell and Back Again, presented as part of the cultural programme of the UK National Armed Forces Day, and including a special Veterans’ screening on Saturday 25th June.

Hell and Back Again is the centrepiece of Conflict | Reportage, a comprehensive, thoughtful exploration of the work of combat journalists. Other events in this strand, presented in association with the Frontline Club, include a diverse mix of screenings, technology demonstrations and debates around modern day conflict, and a two day residence by war reporter Martin Bell OBE.

Also debuting at the Festival in 2011 is Reel Science, an engaging and playful exploration of the depiction of science on film, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Events include the joint UK premiere of James Marsh’s (Man on Wire) fascinating Project Nim; a film and eye tracking technology demonstration; the opportunity to watch Christopher Nolan’s psychological thriller Memento alongside top Edinburgh neuroscientists; a film-triggered keynote debate around the ethics of non-public health usages of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; and a Pandemic Double Bill (Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and Elia Kazan’s Panic in the Streets) with a discussion with a film critic and infectious diseases expert.

Amongst the EIFF highlights already announced are world premieres for David Hare’s first directorial outing for 20 years, the star-studded spy drama Page Eight (starring Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon and Judy Davis); Niall MacCormick’s beautiful coming of age drama Albatross (starring Sebastian Koch, Julia Ormond, Felicity Jones and Jessica Brown-Findlay); the European premiere of Gaby Dellal’s adaptation of award-winning author Leslie Schwartz’ Angels Crest (starring Thomas Dekker, Jeremy Piven and Mira Sorvino); and the UK premiere of David MacKenzie’s Glasgow-set sci-fi thriller love story Perfect Sense (starring Ewan McGregor and Eva Green).

Springing from the ‘All that Heaven Allows’ creative blueprint penned by EIFF2011’s  artistic advisory group – Festival Director (1995 & 1996), filmmaker and author Mark Cousins, Festival Director (1973 – 1980), and producer Lynda Myles, and actress and Festival patron Tilda Swinton – is a series of screenings and events conceived by a diverse range of ‘guest curators’, invited to participate by the group. Gus Van Sant’s passion for the work of Derek Jarman sees a mini-retrospective of that director’s Blue, The Last of England and The Angelic Conversation; Hungarian director Bela Tarr – whose double Berlinale award winning Turin Horse makes its UK premiere at EIFF – has curated a selection of film classics from his home country; the fashion designer Bella Freud is both contributing an original design to the 2011 EIFF delegate bag, and presenting her groundbreaking film Hoping as part of World Refugee Day; The Streets’ Mike Skinner will stage an experimental performance event based on his favourite movie moments; architect and spatial consultant Markus Meissen has curated 24 hours of Spatial Politics in association with New Media Scotland; iconic British style magazine co-founders Rankin and Jefferson Hack responded to the brief with a series of presentations, including the first Edinburgh presentation of Our Broken Voice, from Bristol-based subtlemob.com, and the debut feature premiere of Our Day Will Come from firebrand French music video director Romain Gavras. More will be announced over the coming weeks.

Training, education, inspiration and career enhancement remain central to this year’s programme, and there are several new initiatives, each giving aspirant filmmakers unrivalled access to some of the industry’s leading directors, composers and writers. The Nokia Shorts Weekender is Scotland’s biggest celebration of short film incorporating over 20 screenings, masterclasses and events. Project: New Cinephila is an experimental platform for established and aspiring film critics, powered by Mubi. Sound Tracks includes a wide variety of screenings, discussions, networking opportunities and gigs across the festival – a compelling, instructive and joyous jamboree of all things music on film, presented in association with Domino. Behind the Camera is in effect a ‘pop-up’ film school featuring an array of events staged with partners such as BAFTA, DazedTV, the Edinburgh College of Art and Shooting People. EIFF will also host a major new annual industry conference in association with Screen International. This June will also see the seeding of the CMI’s ambition to build on its talent foundation with a music film talent lab supported by Creative Scotland under its Creative Futures programme and the launch of its talent lab for film making scriptwriters and producers supported by the Scottish Government’s EXPO fund.

Edinburgh school pupils will demonstrate their filmmaking talents at screenings of the Edinburgh Schools Film Competition, plus there will be Media & Film Studies Days (returning by popular demand) and a modern language and a primary schools screening.

The theme of collaboration will be evident in many other guises throughout the festival. Outdoor screenings are planned in association with Essential Edinburgh at the majestic St Andrew Square; a sustainable energy powered, bike driven mobile cinema sponsored by Cutty Sark will pop up across the capital, thanks to Alchemy Arts and the Powerpod; the video sharing website Vimeo is ‘in residence’ during the Festival; and the People’s Postcode Lottery is supporting the UK premiere of Jane’s Journey, directed by Lorenz Knauer, about famed UK primatologist Dr Jane Goodall. Several events explore the future of distribution and revenue streams for filmmakers, with participation from yet more new partners including Basetrack, the Bureau, ConditionOne, DazedTV, Distrify, IMDB, Protein, Rich Pickings, ted.com and VICE. There will also be a lively programme of public film-related events, many of them free, at Festivalhouse@Teviot, where – thanks to the University of Edinburgh – the Festival is headquartered.

Festival Director James Mullighan believes today’s programme announcement is just the beginning of an exciting process of transformation for the EIFF. He commented: ‘In a short space of time we have developed some genuinely innovative content for the 2011 programme, building on the strong heritage and reputation of Edinburgh as one of the original pioneers of the global film festival. In our 65th year, rather than ease into senior citizenship, the EIFF team has instead taken the bold and essential step of looking to the future and reinventing the festival for modern audiences.

‘It has been an extremely exciting and sometimes even daunting process, and one that has sparked much debate from organisers, advisors and fans alike. It has been a privilege to work with the fantastic Edinburgh team and our inspiring collaborators throughout, and we hope you enjoy the resulting programme that is on offer this year, which we are sure will be an EIFF to remember.’

Today’s launch will be followed by news of additional screenings and events, so you are to expect fresh announcements to media and on the EIFF website in the coming weeks.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival said:-“The Festival would not be possible without the support and partnership of a number of organisations.  We welcome this year four new major partners: Nokia, Cutty Sark, Smart and easyJet. We are also extremely grateful to our funders, including Creative Scotland, The City of Edinburgh Council, EventScotland and The Scottish Government EXPO Fund.”

Edinburgh International Film Festival
15th – 26th June 2011

James Mullighan, Director of Edinburgh International Film Festival, marks the launch of its 65th programme at the festival’s new heart for 2011, Festivalhouse@Teviot.