We’ve always had a pretty strong connection to music at EIFF, from showing entire programmes of music video in our 90s Mirrorball strand to handing out audience award to the likes of Beuna Vista Social Club in 1999 and Big Gold Dream in 2015. This year, though, music plays a particularly prevalent part in our programme.

From screening Jaws In Concert with The RSNO, showcasing the film’s iconic John Williams soundtrack in all its orchestral glory, to UK Premieres of films that focus on two of the biggest stars of the 80s, George Michael and Whitney Houston, and a World Premiere of a doc with a difference on post-britpop Scots Travis, as well as a host of films with savvy soundtracks sure to strike a chord, this year’s programme is music to our ears. So enjoy our top ten list of the musical high notes EIFF will be hitting and where you can hear them for yourself!  


Travis: Writing to Reach You (1999)

The Wonderwall-quoting (mocking?) lead single from The Man Who was the key point in the Scots’ career, reframing the previously scrappy britpoppers as balladeers par excellence. It still sounds like a warm hug.

From Almost Fashionable: A Film About Travis



The Feelies: The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness (1980)

Endearing, jittery post-punk nerds perfectly encapsulate the east village in 1982.  This is from their excellent debut, but they composed most of the original music on the film, and Smithereens is the only place to hear it.

From Smithereens

Whitney Houston sits in the entrance to her private jet

Whitney Houston: How Will I Know (1985)

The song that introduced Whitney to the MTV generation, How Will I Know straddles the same line between sadness and giddy euphoria as I Wanna Dance With Somebody, and marked her out as both an immense talent and an unlikely pioneer – though she was infamously booed at Soul Train for being “too white” in image and sound, Whitney was breaking down doors for African-American women in mainstream US culture.

From Whitney


The Mamas and the Papas: California Dreamin’ (1965)

Proof that absence really does make the heart grow fonder, the ultimate California song was actually a paean to homesickness. Written during a particularly harsh New York winter, the reverb-drenched chorals create one of the most beautifully eerie harmony-pop songs in rock history.

From Monterey Pop


Ornette Coleman: Holiday for Heroes (1972)

The first result of Coleman’s ‘harmolodic’ theory, in which many players could solo at once in different keys using modulation, is music that doesn’t really sound like anyone else – waves of dissonance and melody compete to capture a spiritual and emotional picture of America that is still resonant today.

From Ornette: Made in America



Black Flag: Depression (1981)

Two minutes of extreme catharsis from the seminal Damaged album, probably the essential touchstone of the entire West Coast hardcore movement, full of violence, apathy, rage and Henry Rollins’ trademark self-satire.

From The Decline of Western Civilisation


George Michael


George Michael: Freedom (1990)

Whether it was about sexuality, commerciality or his record contract, Freedom endures as a paean to music itself, and is inseparable from its iconic David Fincher-directed video. Even the Robbie Williams cover doesn’t totally ruin it. 

From George Michael: Freedom



Mark Knoplfer: Going Home: Theme of the Local Hero (1983)

The swelling, bagpipe-like theme is the highlight of Mark Knopfler’s soundtrack to Bill Forsyth’s oddball classic. A favourite of sports montage makers, Going Home still works best when soundtracking an unanswered red telephone box.

From Local Hero



ESG: Moody (1981)

Formed in 1978 by the Scroggins sisters Renee, Valerie, Deborah and Marie, ESG were dance-punk pioneers, and Moody, a clear antecedent of the emerging house music scene, remains fresh, sleek and full of possibilities, like pop music as imagined by aliens.

From Smithereens



John Williams: Theme from Jaws (1975)

It may only have two notes (E and F, if you’re asking), and have made Steven Spielberg laugh when he first heard it, but the pulsing, hypnotising dread of John Williams’ iconic Jaws theme makes the movie, and still has the power to terrify.

From Jaws

Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons star in Hearts Beat Loud

Sleeve Notes

While we don't have individual songs picked out from the following films, we're anticipating bonus tracks from each of them. The human connection to music is the driving force in these features, showing its power to heal (Dirt Road to Layfette), bring us together (Hearts Beat Loud, Fake Tattoos) or take us to unexpected places (Party ‘Round the Globe), while the 11-25 year olds of Tinderbox Orchestra bring their fusion of “Rave culture and the last night of the proms” (The Herald) to Central Hall, soundtracking two silent archive films in Moving Music.

Outside of EIFF - Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop

22 June-25 November 2018 at the National Museum of Scotland

Discover the story of Scottish pop music at the National Museum of Scotland this summer. Rip It Up will take you on a musical journey from the 1950s to the present day, featuring influential indie pioneers, global superstars and today’s outstanding newcomers.

Book now at www.nms.ac.uk/ripitup


Listen along to our Spotify playlist of the Top Ten Tracks of EIFF!