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Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009: Day Four

EIFF.pngAnother near miss with a late bus and a slow driver, but foregoing my morning Costa I managed to race to the cinema in time to see the first film of the day and one of the Festival films I was most looking forward to, Outrage by Kirby Dick.

After that it was over to Salvage, a British horror film, a quick Costa with Stuart from Cinema Blend, and then onto Surrogate, the film at the centre of the recent controversy.

Well when I say controversy it's not really about the film but actually about politics and the country that the director is from. After Ken Loach called for people to stay away from the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The controversy was over the fact that the film comes from an Israeli film-maker, and like other other foreign films and film-makers at festivals, the Israeli Government had paid the EIFF some money to cover costs and expenses to have the film shown at the festival and the film-maker appear at the public screening and be available to press.

This had attracted the wrath of Ken Loach and other anti-Israel voices, and the call was made. By the way the amount was US $450.

Well that had me set in stone the moment the political shout to boycott the festival came, I was going to see Surrogate whether it was any good or not, and what was interesting was that it was really good.

Tali Shalom-Ezer has created an incredibly touching and moving film about Eli, a man who is clearly having problems showing intimacy with others, particularly women, and so he approaches another therapist for assistance. She places him with a surrogate, a woman who acts as an alternate partner for him to engage in sexual therapy together, practising intimacy and physical contact between each other.

As the therapy continues Eli becomes more attached to her and the truth about the events that have brought him here begin to emerge.

It's well scripted and subtly acted, leaving a lot to the imagination rather than spelling it all out, and without any Hollywood endings it manages to give you a strong positive feel amongst all the sadness.

Since I'm starting at the end let's go backwards. There was Salvage in the middle of the day, a British horror that promised a lot and started out that way but ended up delivering more of the same, cliché's galore and even some 'hilarious for the wrong reason' moments.

So that's a firm don't bother for that film then.

However the first film of the day, Outrage, is a totally different matter. Kirby Dick is responsible for two of the best documentaries I've seen, Twist of Faith (Filmstalker review) and This Film Is Not Yet Rated (Filmstalker review). While it doesn't reach the power of the first, it's really good and shows the incredible truth of the American politicians who are secretly gay and yet fight hard for the anti-gay movement, voting in laws to repeal and hold back their rights.

It's quite an eye opening and surprising film, and can be incredibly hard hitting at times. What's great about the film is it's not labelling or seeking to out people without their permission, except where they are politicians who are the very people that they are making laws against, and hiding that fact from the world in order to be elected and re-elected.

Another recommended one from the Festival, this might be a record this year.

Filmstalker at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009



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