Edinburgh International Film Festival unveils programme

A scene from Brave Disney/Pixar's Brave will be shown for the closing Gala of the EIFF

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A series of world and European premieres have been announced for the 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The festival will showcase 121 new films from 52 countries, with 19 world premieres, 11 European premieres and 76 UK premieres.

Highlights include 7 Days In Havana, with Benicio Del Toro, and Disney/Pixar's animated feature Brave.

The film festival will run from 20 June to 1 July.

Analysis

Even the press conference to announce the new Edinburgh International Film Festival felt better.

A bold hoarding for photographs outside the Filmhouse rather than handmade posters.

A cinema full of journalists and a director who seemed to have a focus and a vision his unfortunate predecessor seemed to lack.

If the film samples were strangely mute, Chris Fujiwara certainly wasn't, outlining his vision for a festival which would "advocate a certain kind of cinema".

What was that kind of cinema? Eclectic and international according to the list unveiled today.

From William Friedkin's comedy thriller Killer Joe to the Disney epic Brave, with a hundred and twenty one films in between.

Cult Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto will be in attendance to introduce his two cult films about a vengeful American dad who becomes a cyberpunk superhero. Clive Owen stars in the IRA thriller Shadow Dancer.

There's horror - Lovely Molly, V/H/S, Berberian Sound Studio. Family fun - The Lorax. Even martial arts - Dragon.

There's a strong documentary strand - with Chinese film-maker Wang Bing and Russian director Victor Kossakovsky both in attendance for workshops as well as screenings.

Robert Carlyle makes a return to the big screen as an ex Britpop star in exile in California Solo - and he too will appear at the festival to talk about his career.

There's a big push to bring actors and directors back to the festival and the return of red carpet events, which were phased out under the previous shakeup.

Superficial they may be, but they create a buzz around the festival, and encourage media coverage around the world.

Long running awards like the Michael Powell award are back too.

Financially, the festival seems to be on a better footing.

The loss of £1.9m of funding following the demise of the UK Film Council hasn't been completely replaced but a one off grant this year of £250,000 from the British Film Industry via the lottery fund does offer a major boost.

And it's a position of strength from which to negotiate future funding.

The one thing they're adamant won't change is the timing, with the festival remaining in its new slot in June.

Plans are afoot though, to increase their profile and stage more events in August alongside the other summer festivals.

Horror film Killer Joe, from Exorcist director William Friedkin, will open the festival.

The closing Gala will be the European premiere of Brave on 30 June at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh.

The film, which is set in a mythical Scottish Highlands, will premiere at the end of the festival.

Several of the characters are voiced by Scots, including Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson.

Kelly Macdonald provides the voice for the main character, a princess called Merida, and Robbie Coltrane voices a lord called Dingwall.

Masterclass

Other highlights include Shinya Tsukamoto and Wang Bing, who will bring together a collection of their films.

They include Japanese cult director Tsukamoto's latest project Kotoko, and will culminate in a masterclass with Wang Bing, who will discuss his documentary film-making career.

Accompanying their respective films, Ivivan Las Antipodas! and California Solo, will be director Victor Kossakovsky and actor and EIFF patron, Robert Carlyle.

They will also have on-stage events, with Victor Kossakovsky presenting a masterclass, while Robert Carlyle will be the subject of 2012's In Person: Bafta Scotland interview.

'Fascinating story'

EIFF artistic director Chris Fujiwara said: "Our programme reflects the exceptionally vibrant state of current cinema.

"Our audiences will be able to explore a wide range of outstanding films from around the world, including work by established masters and films from new and emerging talents.

"There are also some no less exciting discoveries to be made this year in our retrospectives.

"Altogether it's a rich and diverse programme that tells, I believe, a fascinating story about where cinema is today, what it can learn from the past, and where it is going in the future."

Following last year's Film Council funding being pulled, the British Film Institute has given £250,000 to the film festival as a one-off sum this year.

The prestigious Michael Powell Award for best British feature film in 2012 has also been reinstated this year after it was dropped in 2011.

This year will also see red carpet events back and more focus on debate and discussion.

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