In celebration of 70 years, we're delighted to announce our 2017 retrospective programme, The Future is History, conceived and curated by Senior Programmer Niall Greig Fulton.

Consisting of three strands, Great Britain, The Western World of the Future and Scotland, this year's programme will present a special cross-arts exploration of identity. 

Tickets for a number of events are on sale now.


Fulton said: “Inspired by Britain’s decision to depart from the EU during our last edition, and touching on the Festival’s long held passion for debate and discovery, The Future is History turns the clock back to the 1970s/1980s to explore the vital question of identity in a world undergoing seismic political and cultural change.”

Great Britain will be represented by a selection of titles from ex-Beatle George Harrison's HandMade Films; the work of world-renowned recording artist Matt Johnson, alias THE THE, and his brother, director Gerard Johnson; along with a collection of rare satirical animations with a British theme. The Western World of the Future will include a look back at classic early 80s science-fiction cinema and a focus on cult French animator Rene Laloux. 

Scotland will be reflected in a biographical look at visionary Scottish playwright, poet and jazz musician, Tom McGrath, featuring work from some of Scotland's most celebrated talents, including actress Kate Dickie (Prometheus, Game of Thrones), actor Tam Dean Burn (War Horse, Fortitude), and internationally-renowned jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. 

Matt Johnson

Great Britain

A timely reflection of British culture past, Great Britain will revisit the superb back catalogue of George Harrison's HandMade Films. Titles screenings include The Long Good Friday (John Mackenzie, 1980), Time Bandits (Terry Gilliam, 1981), Scrubbers (Mai Zetterling, 1982), A Private Function (Malcolm Mowbray, 1984), Mona Lisa (Neil Jordan, 1986), Withnail & I (Bruce Robinson, 1987), Bellman and True (Richard Loncraine, 1987), How to Get Ahead in Advertising (Bruce Robinson, 1989) and a special screening of the original Scottish language version of John Mackenzie's classic A Sense of Freedom (1979).

The rarely screened, ground-breaking visual accompaniment to THE THE's seminal 1986 album of the same name, THE THE: Infected - The Movie (1987) will screen alongside the UK Premiere of Johanna St Michaels' The Inertia Variations (2017). This documentary focuses on THE THE frontman Matt Johnson's life and work, and contains a performance of his latest music, brand new THE THE single, We Can't Stop What's Coming. There will also be a chance to see Radio Cineola: The Inertia Variations, an interactive exhibition based on the film. The exhibition will staged at Summerhall from 22 - 28 June. 

View the trailer here


It’s a family affair for the Johnsons with Matt’s brother, director Gerard Johnson set to return to EIFF to direct a stage reading of John Hopkins’ controversial 1968 play, This Story of Yours. (Tickets available here - LINK UP.) Looking back at his dark vision of Britain today, Gerard’s first two features Tony (2009) and Hyena (2014) will also screen as part of the programme.

Red, White and Blue: Animating the British Empire will feature Great (Bob Godfrey, 1975), which won the Oscar® for Best Animated Short Film at the 48th Academy Awards in 1976, Polygamous Polonius Revisited (Bob Godfrey, 1985), Britannia (Joanna Quinn, 1993), Know Your Europeans: The United Kingdom (Bob Godfrey, 1994),  The Emperor (Lizzie Hobbs, 2001),  Dad's Dead (Chris Shepherd, 2003), My Dad (Marcus Armitage, 2014) and Britain (Bexie Bush, 2011).

The Western World of the Future

Providing food for thought in uncertain times, we are proud to take audiences "back to the future" with this exciting retrospective strand featuring a selection of the most diverse and significant science fiction films from that golden era. The strand is designed to turn attention to the future of the western world via the science fiction cinema of the past, and in the process, continue the review of our own rich history.

Works featured will include Death Watch (Bertrand Tavernier, 1980) which screened at 34th EIFF 1980, Escape from New York (John Carpenter, 1981) which screened as opening night at 35th EIFF 1981, Outland (Peter Hyams, 1981), The Last Battle (Luc Besson, 1983), Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden, 1983) which screened at 37th EIFF 1983, Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983), Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984) which screened at 38th EIFF 1984, The Terminator (James Cameron, 1984), The Brother from Another Planet (John Sayles, 1984), Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985), The Elements of Crime (Lars von Trier, 1984) and The Quiet Earth (Geoffrey Murphy, 1985).

Iconic French director René Laloux, whose imaginative work consistently explored themes of communication and identity, will be remembered with two screenings of his cult animated feature films La Planéte Sauvage (1973) and Gandahar (1988).

View the trailer here

The Android Circuit, Copyright The Scotsman Publication Ltd


Audiences will be taken into the world of visionary Scottish playwright, poet and jazz musician Tom McGrath in this third strand.

In an ode to McGrath's immense influence on jazz in Scotland, Edinburgh born jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith will lead the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in a musical tribute to Tom McGrath at the Queens Hall featuring the music of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Freddie Redd and other jazz greats. This special performance will be complemented by readings of McGrath's poetry by celebrated actor and performer, Tam Dean Burn. Tickets available here - ADD LINK

There will be two additional live stage readings of McGrath's ground-breaking plays from the era, The Hard Man (1977) and The Android Circuit (1978) (tickets available here - ADD LINK HERE), both directed by Tam Dean Burn. The Hard Man reading will put a new spin on this famously masculine Scottish play by casting a woman in the central role. At EIFF 2017, critically acclaimed Scottish actress Kate Dickie will be The Hard Man. Tickets available here - ADD LINK HERE.

With McGrath's rarely seen 1982 BBC Play for Tomorrow: The Nuclear Family, (a science-fiction set in Scotland), at its centre, the onscreen programme mixes interview, documentary and drama, embellishing this biographical picture of McGrath culturally, and firmly linking him artistically to EIFF history. The film selection also includes a trip back to McGrath's roots in the beat era with Wholly Communion (1965) and The Connection (1961).

As an accompaniment to The Future is History, EIFF will host a series of free lectures by leading academics from Edinburgh University and Stirling University who will discuss some of the subjects raised in the retrospectives.

Deputy Artistic Director Diane Henderson commented: "This year's special retrospective programme celebrates the 70th Anniversary of Edinburgh's world famous festivals, and presents a clear look at, and contribution to, the evolving identity of EIFF and its provenance. It will provide a truly exciting journey of screen, stage and music and allow audiences to experience a selection of the featured era's most important art."

The 2017 Main Programme will be announced by EIFF Artistic Director, Mark Adams, at Filmhouse on Wednesday 31 May when tickets will go on sale for members, with tickets going on sale to the general public on Friday 2 June at 10am.


Tickets on sale 11am Thursday 27 April

22nd June at 8.15pm at the Traverse
This Story of Yours: Script Reading directed by Gerard Johnson
Tickets available HERE 

23rd June at 7.30pm at the Queens Hall
Electric Contact: A Jazz Tribute to Tom McGrath
Tickets available HERE

24th June at 8.15pm at the Traverse
The Hard Man: Script Reading directed by Tam Dean Burn
Tickets available HERE 

26th June at 8.15pm at the Traverse
The Android Circuit: Script Reading directed by Tam Dean Burn
Tickets available HERE