Programme Launch: Editor's Picks

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Welcome to EIFF 2014! Today marks the programme launch of the 68th Edinburgh International Film Festival. Along with our news and highlights, Web Editor Nicola Balkind has a few choice picks for you...

Let's start young. EIFF's Young Programmers have done a bang-up job with another great strand of coming-of-age programming. I'm intrigued by #ChicagoGirl – The Social Network Takes On a Dictator. This US-Syria co-production tells the story of a 19-year-old student who leads marches in Syria from her bedroom. Social media in action!

Documentary-wise, I'll be looking forward to Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, a documentary from Danish director Andreas Johnsen, who followed Ai for a year and tracks his anguish, joy and solidarity before being arrested in 2011.

Another promising documentary is Finding Vivian Maier. The film investigates the life of Vivian Maier, a photographer whose amateur works of street photography were discovered after being auctioned as part of a box of negatives in Chicago. For me it's in the spirit of one of my favourite docs of EIFF 2013: Stories We Tell. The film screens as part of the American Dreams strand.

Also in American Dreams is the intriguingly-named I Believe in Unicorns. It's billed as a sensitive and poetic road movie about a teenage girl who escapes the realities of caring for her disabled mother by taking refuge in a fantasy life. This debut feature comes from Leah Meyerhoff, a short film-maker who specialises in delicacy and magic.

You can't get much more etheral than Michel Gondry, the visionary director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (one of my all-time favourites). His latest feature, Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?, melds hand-drawn animation with documentary in the form of conversations between Gondry and Noam Chomsky. My inner animation-loving media-nerd is tingling.

Over in the Directors' Showcase strand, Stray Dogs is touted as Tsai Ming-liang's farewell to cinema. It encapsulates what Chris Fujiwara identified as the Festival's theme of transformation, following a single father and his young son and daughter. The film takes on the bleakness of the contemporary world.

Outside of features, the Bridging the Gap programme promises another diverse collection of short films that capture Scottish life. Film Is Chemistry in the Black Box strand demonstrates the magical medium of film we so love, and Norman McLaren: Now Is the Time is set to create a whole new experience of Norman McLaren's seminal stereoscopic films.

Have you made your merry way through our Festival brochure yet? Tell us your top picks in comments or tweet us @edfilmfest!

In the meantime, take a look at the top picks from The List.

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EIFF Web Editor


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