While large-format 70mm film may have dominated news in the analogue world in 2018 - with new restorations (The Sound of Music) and “un”restorations (2001: A Space Odyssey) abound - you can always rely on the Edinburgh International Film Festival to showcase a good deal of its trusty, old 35mm counterpart and its smaller 16mm sibling.
Indeed, 16mm takes a starring role in this, the 72nd edition of the Festival. From a unique programme of shorts presenting the work of queer cinema icon Barbara Hammer to the yearly presence of the magical, experimental Black Box strand – which also hosts a focus on Canadian artist Joyce Wieland – 16mm is certainly alive and well. With all of these screenings taking place in Filmhouse’s Cinema 3, one of only a select few auditoria in the country which can still present the format, and the fact that many of the featured prints are being shipped in from vaults and archives around the world, these presentations quite simply may never be witnessed again on these shores and, as such, are not to be missed.Such is the importance of these endeavours and the survival of 16mm in the world of film exhibition and curation, EIFF also hosts a special panel discussion on its status, preservation and restoration in conjunction with the Hammer and Wieland screenings. Featuring speakers from the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, BFI and LUX, this ought to prove a fascinating insight into what is an even more elusive format these days than 35mm. Yet, while it may be harder to find (and more fiddly to project!), the programme at EIFF this year proves a staunch passion for its presentation and the clear statement that it is not going anywhere anytime soon.
On the more familiar 35mm front, there is a fine selection of some rare titles, and even a bit of late-night celluloid! Getting the projectors rolling this year is Susan Seidelman’s Smithereens, screening on the first full day of the festival (Thursday 21 June), within the retropsective Time of the Signs strand - addressing female filmmakers, the media and horror in American cinema from 1975 to 1991. A most timely and varied retrospective, an added bonus is that a good percentage of the screenings are from 35mm. Amongst the highlights are Oliver Stone’s Talk Radio; the rarely screened, animated gem The Cosmic Eye; cult queer doc Paris is Burning with director Jennie Livingston in attendance; and, for those who can brave a post-11pm screening, Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark. It'll be worth it!There are, unfortunately (but hardly unexpectedly for 2018), no new features screening on film at the festival but the above are only a selection of the many celluloid delights on offer and if one goes digging further (see below), there is much more to find. EIFF have even done some particular delving – into the archives – to unearth a 35mm print of Maurice Hatton’s Long Shot, filmed in and around the 1977 festival and featuring faces such as Wim Wenders and John Boorman amongst others. A lovely, playful jolly of an artefact, simply seeing EIFF before Filmhouse even existed (though only just!) is a rare pleasure and a fitting way to round off the festival on the final day.All in all, with almost 20 screenings featuring 16mm and/or 35mm, and only one full day with none at all, the chances are that you may see something on film without even meaning to (although of course you should!). However, feel secure in the knowledge that no matter what you do see, EIFF’s crème de la crème of projection teams will be on hand every second to deliver a standard of presentation rivalled by few other festivals. Everything is in safe hands – quite literally. And, lastly, if analogue isn’t your cup of tea? Well, Filmhouse Cinema 1 is now equipped with 4K!
Analogue screenings at EIFF 2018
All screenings at Filmhouse.
Thursday 21 June
20:40 Smithereens (35mm) Filmhouse 2
Friday 22 June
18:05 Talk Radio (35mm) Filmhouse 2
Sunday 24 June
20:50 Black Box Shorts: The Shape of Light (16mm/35mm/digital) Filmhouse 3
23:25 Near Dark (35mm) Filmhouse 1
Monday 25 June
20:35 Smooth Talk (35mm) Filmhouse 1
Tuesday 26 June
18:20 The Cosmic Eye (35mm) Filmhouse 2
20:45 Black Box Shorts: Canadian Experimental Film - Forty Years Later (16mm/digital) Filmhouse 3
20:55 Paris is Burning (35mm) Filmhouse 1
Wednesday 27 June
20:45 Black Box Focus: Joyce Wieland (16mm) Filmhouse 3
20:50 Testament (35mm) Filmhouse 2
Thursday 28 June
20:50 Shorts: Defiant Bodies - Celebrating Barbara Hammer (16mm/digital) Filmhouse 3
Friday 29 June
20:50 Black Box Shorts: Physical Connection (16mm/digital) Filmhouse 3
Saturday 30 June
13:30 Black Box Shorts: The Shape of Light (16mm/35mm/digital) Filmhouse 3
15:05 The China Syndrome (35mm) Filmhouse 1
Sunday 1 July
13:10 Black Box Shorts: Physical Connection (16mm/digital) Filmhouse 3
15:30 Black Box Shorts: Canadian Experimental Film - Forty Years Later (16mm/digital) Filmhouse 3
18:10 Long Shot (35mm) Filmhouse 2