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EIFF returns this August with an exciting line-up and an innovative new look

Ed Film Fest returns this August with an exciting line-up and an innovative new look

Nicolas Cage in Pig

Nicolas Cage's Pig kicks things off, while the Billy Crystal directed Here Today starring Tiffany Haddish will close

Back to celebrate cinema in all its fabulous forms following the cancellation of 2020's event, the Edinburgh International Film Festival returns from Wednesday 18 to Wednesday 25 August – with the 74th edition taking pride of place at the heart of the city's world-famous festival season.

Boasting a brand-new and thoroughly innovative approach, which thoughtfully responds to the challenges of our time, Ed Film Fest is committed to bringing people together through film, whilst enthusiastically championing Scottish and UK talent. In-person events in Edinburgh and beyond will offer both indoor and outdoor cinema experiences, while online screenings will connect with a wider community of film fans.

Festivities kick off with the European Premiere of the acclaimed Pig, directed by rising star Michael Sarnoski and starring Oscar-winner and cult hero Nicolas Cage, playing a truffle hunter on the trail of his beloved foraging pig who has been kidnapped. Aiming to see the festival off with a smile is the closing film Here Today, which marks comedy legend Billy Crystal's return to directing after 20 years and features the effervescent Tiffany Haddish, alongside Crystal himself. The pair star as a veteran comedy writer and singer, whose unlikely friendship is sure to touch hearts.

Ed Film Fest returns this August with an exciting line-up and an innovative new look

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Another highlight from the programme is the special preview of Everybody's Talking About Jamie, the hotly anticipated film adaptation of the award-winning West End musical, which sees newcomer Max Harwood team up with national treasures Sarah Lancashire and Richard E. Grant. It will screen at the Festival Theatre, representing a coming home of sorts, since the stage version was the last show to play there ahead of the March 2020 lockdown, while the real-life Jamie Campbell and his mother Margaret are expected to attend. Keeping the fun coming, the iconic St Andrew Square will host a tie-in event 'Edinburgh's Talking About Jamie', complete with drag queen entertainment, cocktails and prizes for the most spectacular outfits.

St Andrew Square will also be the setting for Film Fest In The City 2021, a special open-air series of free screenings taking place between Thursday 19 and Wednesday 25 August, which put the emphasis firmly on accessibility by providing a wide range of outdoor entertainment for all ages, with films like Mamma Mia!, Frozen (Sing Along) and the original Star Wars trilogy amongst those showing. A range of delicious food and drink options will be available to purchase on site and you'll be able to settle down on picnic blankets or deck chairs to share in some of the nation's favourite films, as we return to a communal appreciation of cinema.

If you're looking for something to do a little sooner, then another series of free outdoor screenings, Film Fest On The Forth, will be taking place at Port Edgar Marina, South Queensferry this very weekend, on Saturday 31 July and Sunday 1 August. They're offering an aquatic-themed, family friendly line-up of movies that make the most of this beautiful and unusual waterside setting on the banks of the Firth of Forth, overlooking the three iconic bridges, with films like Moana, Jaws, Whisky Galore! and Titanic in the mix.

Ed Film Fest returns this August with an exciting line-up and an innovative new look

Murdo Macdonald ready for Jaws at Film Fest on the Forth / credit: Lesley Martin

Widening the festival's reach and ensuring that those who are unable or uncomfortable attending in person are still able to join in, the festival will be available to audiences across the UK via the popular online streaming platform Filmhouse At Home, where viewers can enjoy the films and access a number of illuminating Q&As from filmmakers and stars. While the festival will be collaborating with partners to put on a programme of presentations across Scotland, with more to be announced on that soon.

As ever, Ed Film Fest is keen to support the next generation of talent. Providing practical help to those writers, directors or producers from Scotland, the UK and beyond who are working on their first feature, EIFF Talent Lab will this year adopt a virtual format and take place over two weekends, from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 August and on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 August. And the EIFF Youth programme will aim to inspire and assist the filmmakers and curators of tomorrow, running an in-person and online programme from Friday 20 to Sunday 22 August, which will involve workshops, career advice, a look at environmental issues in cinema production, and the opportunity to meet and interview filmmakers.

This year's programme has been put together by a team of regular and guest programmers led by Nick Varley (founder and former co-CEO of film distributor Park Circus), with the intention of addressing important issues, championing social change and inviting new audiences to get involved. And it's recently been announced that, following the festival, the former Director of Film at Australia's National Museum Of Screen Culture Kristy Matheson will be taking over as Creative Director at Scotland's Centre For The Moving Image, a role that will see her drive the vision for the 75th anniversary edition of the EIFF in 2022, and that can only mean exciting things for the festival's future.

To browse the full EIFF 2021 line-up, book tickets and find out more visit edfilmfest.org.uk

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Edinburgh International Film Festival

The oldest continually running film festival in the world, the EIFF draws on its prestige to consistently present abundant programmes of new features, documentaries, retrospectives, shorts, panel discussions and educational workshops, with a few high profile premieres thrown in for good measure.

Film Fest on the Forth

Outdoor cinema screenings as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival programme.