In the film, which has previously played at Tribeca and Sydney, 40-somethings Laura (Jackie van Beek) and Bruno (Damon Herriman) head to a three day couples’ retreat run by relationship and sexual healing guru Bjorg Rasmussen (Jemaine Clement) in an effort to rekindle the spark in their troubled marriage. Upon arrival, the path to their reconnection is met with increasingly absurd farce. The film is spoken entirely in an improvised, gibberish-esque language with subtitles created by Julia Davis.
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The festival has reimagined its major award, the Michael Powell Award for best British feature. “With a renewed commitment to internationalism and cultural exchange, the principles on which the Edinburgh Festivals were founded, EIFF will present the Powell & Pressburger award for best feature film. This competition of 10 films is composed of a mix of U.K. and Irish filmmakers and international talents and honors imagination and creativity in filmmaking. The films selected for our 2022 competition are daring, eclectic and genuinely speak to the creativity that’s central to the works of our award’s namesakes – Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger,” the festival said in a statement.
The duo co-directed several classics including “Black Narcissus” (1947), “The Red Shoes” (1948) and “Tales of Hofmman” (1951).
The films in contention for the Powell & Pressburger award are: Jan Gassmann’s erotic drama “99 Moons”; Scottish animators Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson’s inventive documentary “A Cat Called Dom”; Peter Strickland’s dark comedy “Flux Gourmet”; Brazilian filmmaker Flávia Neves’ directorial debut “Fogaréu”; co-directors Josh Appignanesi and Devorah Baum’s marital angst documentary “Husband”; debutant Martika Ramirez Escobar’s surreal comedy and love letter to Filipino action films, Sundance winner “Leonor Will Never Die”; Andrew Legge’s WWII-set debut feature “Lola”; Palestinian filmmaker Maha Haj’s Cannes-winning examination of mental illness and masculinity “Mediterranean Fever”; Kathryn Ferguson’s Sinead O’Connor documentary “Nothing Compares”; and Amanda Kramer’s exploration of queer desire and masculinity “Please Baby Please,” which opened Rotterdam earlier this year. Women comprise 50% of the competing films’ filmmakers.
As always, EIFF features a rich array of Scottish talent. The festival opens with Scottish filmmaker Charlotte Wells’ “Aftersun” and, in addition to competition title “A Cat Called Dom,” there are many more from local talents. Glasgow-based Marie Lidén’s documentary “Electric Malady” focuses on a medical syndrome. Presented in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Festival, “The Ballad of a Great Disordered Heart” is a collaborative film by Edinburgh-based trio: folk musician Aidan O’Rourke, Becky Manson and Mark Cousins that portray’s Edinburgh’s Irish communities. Drawing on rare 8mm colour film of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides, Scottish director Andy MacKinnon offers a bridge between the contemporary citizens and their not-so-distant past in “Dùthchas” | “Home.”
In addition, Hassan Nazer’s “Winners” (“Barandeha”), produced by Scot Paul Welsh and Scottish Uzbek Nadira Murray, is set in a deprived area of a small Iranian town where children are required to work to help support their families. Glasgow-based Borja Alcalde’s debut feature documentary “The Sacred Family” (“La Sagrada Familia”) is an emotional journey to the heart of what holds a family together or breaks them apart.
Expanded from his BBC short documentary, Peter Day’s “Off The Rails” follows adrenaline-seeking Surrey teens Aiden and Rikke parkour journey to YouTube stardom and is produced by Scot Grant Keir. Don Coutts’ “Heading West: a story about a band called Shooglenifty” is about the Edinburgh band of the same name.
And, Glaswegian Lynne Ramsay’s second feature “Morvern Callar,” based on Scot Alan Warner’s novel, starring Samantha Morton as the titular character celebrates its 20th anniversary with a 35mm retrospective screening at EIFF.
EIFF also features 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, with 4K restorations of six of her films.
Further, Reframing The Gaze: Experiments in Women’s Filmmaking, 1972 to Now is a retrospective program curated by Kim Knowles which responds to the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Women’s Event held at EIFF, the first global film celebration entirely dedicated to the cinematic achievements of female directors. Honoring the spirit of this, EIFF’s 2022 Theme will acknowledge the multiplicity and variety of feminisms in contemporary society across its entire program.
Kristy Matheson, creative cirector of EIFF 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 program has been joyous. I’m excited to share our program with you today and look forward to welcoming audiences back to EIFF this August.”
The festival takes place Aug. 12-20.
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