Penelope Spheeris' short film The Decline of Western Civilization from 1981 is featured in EIFF's Retrospective programme for 2018
Time of the Signs: Chasing the American Zeitgeist is inspired by the cultural issues of the present day
Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has announced its 2018 Retrospective programme, ahead of this year's much anticipated event. Time of the Signs: Chasing the American Zeitgeist is inspired by Trump's America, and the lineup will focus on U.S cinema from the 1990s, exploring varied aspects of American culture. EIFF's senior programmer Niall Greig Fulton says: 'In light of recent events on the other side of the Atlantic, Time of the Signs is designed to reflect important cultural issues in America today through the cinema of the country's past.'
The programme is broken into three fascinating strands – American Woman: Female Directors in American Cinema; American Exposé: The Media in Mainstream American Cinema; and The American Nightmare: Horror in Mainstream American Cinema. In addition, a special Retrospective LIVE! screening of the rarely-seen concert film, Monterey Pop, will also feature as part of Summerhall's Southern Exposure Festival.
American Woman: Female Directors in American Cinema
Focusing on the work of women directors between the years of 1980 and 1990, this retrospective aims to create a picture of American culture through a female lens, with work from cult favourites and oscar winners. Featured films include Penelope Spheeris' The Decline of Western Civilization from 1981, Lizzie Borden's Working Girls from 1986 and Kathryn Bigelow's 1987 film Near Dark.
In addition, a collection of Academy Award winning, and nominated, short films will be shown as part of the programme, including Vivienne Verdon-Roe's Women – For America, For the World, Sonya Friedman's The Master of Disaster, Pamela Conn and Sue Marx's Young at Heart and Deborah Dickson's Frances Steloff: Memoirs of a Bookseller.
The Cosmic Eye Faith Hubley's animated The Cosmic Eye, nominated for Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1986, will also screen alongside a programme of director Barbara Hammer's short film work from the 1970s and 80s. Fulton says: 'It's a truly breathtaking selection of films, revealing ground-breaking, insightful work that paints a fascinating picture of America at the time. This strand is complemented by a retrospective look at the essential, innovative work of the brilliant experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer.'
American Exposé: The Media in Mainstream American Cinema 1975-1990
Of particular relevance to the current political climate in America, this strand of the Retrospective considers the influence of the media on our society. The selection of films covers the years 1975 to 1990, with some prescient pictures on show, such as Sidney Lumet's classic Network from 1976, Martin Scorsese's outstanding, darkly humorous The King of Comedy from 1982 and James L Brooks's Broadcast News from 1987.
Fulton adds: 'American Exposé: The Media in Mainstream American Cinema will explore the evolution of the crucial role played by the media in American society today. Focusing on subjects such as freedom of speech, fake news, the cult of celebrity and the power of investigative journalism, these classic films are as compelling and relevant now as they were in the 1980s.'
The American Nightmare: Horror in Mainstream American Cinema 1980-1985
The third and final strand of the EIFF's Retrospective covers classic horror films from 1980-1985, a period that influences modern American television, from The Strain, The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries, to the oddly nostalgic Stranger Things.
Organisers have called the period 'a golden era for US horror', and that bold statement is backed up by some fine selections. Works featured include John Carpenter's The Fog from 1980, Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist from 1982, and Wes Craven's Nightmare on Elm Street from 1984. As a tribute to the late, great George A Romero, a giant of the genre, there will also be a special screening of his 1985 classic Day of the Dead.
Day of the Dead Fulton says: 'It's an exciting late night strand, providing a rare opportunity for all the cult cinema fans in our audience to catch these dark gems in their full glory on the big screen.'
In addition to the three fascinating strands detailed above, the festival will also host a screening of the rarely seen Monterey Pop concert film on Fri 22 Jun. Part of Summerhall's Southern Exposure Festival, DA Pennebaker's film includes classic performances from groups like Simon & Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix and The Mamas & the Papas. Screened like a real concert, with a full light and sound rig, it's a night not to be missed for fans of timeless 1960 American classics.
The main programme will be announced by EIFF artistic director, Mark Adams, at Edinburgh's Filmhouse on Wed 23 May. Tickets go on sale to Filmhouse members on Wednesday 23 May at noon and on general sale to the public on Fri 25 May at 10am.
The 72nd edition of EIFF runs from Wed 20 Jun - Sun 1 Jul.
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.