News - Edinburgh International Film Festival

Edinburgh International Film Festival has announced the programme for its fully in-person 75th Anniversary edition this year. Here are TEN music related films to look out for...

Running from 12th to 20th August, the "dynamic programme of cinema screenings, live performance and industry dialogues in Edinburgh in the heart of the August festival season includes 87 new features, 12 short film programmes, and two large scale retrospectives." However, this year, it also seems to include a LOT of music related films, from folk music to a musical, jazz to classical and audio soundscapes to rare concert footage. Here, in no particular order are ten music-ish films we think you should look out for if you're going to be in Edinburgh in August [well, it IS Festival time - Ed].


Part of the The Chamber Strand

Troy and Gloria kick off their romance with a typical meet-cute: he orders a coffee at the roadside diner where she works. The reasoning for his visit, however, is anything but typical. The young man is there with Mike, his partner in a criminal mission puzzlingly titled ‘the score’. With songs written by Johnny Flynn, this unusual musical intertwines the riveting tropes of a thriller with the comforting beats of a romance to construct a whimsical experiment in genre.


Part of the The Chamber Strand

A wildly ambitious spectacle involving choirs, dancers, synthesizer-augmented orchestras and a string quartet playing from four separate helicopters, the 29-hour opera cycle Licht was the late Karlheinz Stockhausen’s magnum opus. This colourful documentary follows the turbulent production of the Dutch National Opera’s 2019 interpretation, which spanned nine days and required 500 performers. Illuminating for fans and newcomers alike, the film also delves into the electronic music pioneer’s polyamorous lifestyle, with frank recollections from his former partners and neglected children.


Part of the Night Moves Strand

Born in Edinburgh in 1990, Shooglenifty created their unique sound by fusing traditional melodies with the beats and basslines of world music influences. This musical journey follows the original members of the band and their rise in international popularity. Following the untimely passing of their fiddle player and front man, Angus R. Grant, the band persevere with the same passion and creativity. An uplifting gem for fans old and new.


Part of the The Powell & Pressburger Award for Best Feature Film Strand

Sinead O’Connor was not the first or last female pop star to be adored and demonised with equal vigor. Focusing on a five-year period between 1987 and 1992, Kathryn Ferguson’s documentary shows us the artistry and emotion behind a trailblazing artist made controversial because of her refusal to compromise. The film covers her miserable upbringing, rise to pop stardom and forced exile from an industry determined to box her into something she was never going to be.


Part of the The Chamber Strand

An evocative film about Edinburgh’s Old Town and the communities who have called it home. During lockdown, musician Aidan O’Rourke befriended his three octogenarian neighbours, all called Margaret. Inspired by their tales, with a renewed curiosity for his own roots, he takes a musical journey into the meaning of home and belonging. This celebratory film about folk music and its power to connect features a foot-stomping original soundtrack by O’Rourke and live performances by sensational Irish and Scottish folk musicians.


Part of the Night Moves Strand

Premiered at Sundance, this interactive ‘live documentary’ directed and performed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sam Green is a collaboration with musician JD Samson (Le Tigre), exploring the transformative power of sound. It’s an eclectic journey spanning such ear-tickling examples as birdsong, a whoopee cushion, crashing waves and disco, guided by aural experts from science, cinema and the art world. There are even audience participation interludes! The film will be presented with headphones for each viewer.


Part of the The Chamber Strand

'This film should be played loud!’ declare The Last Waltz’s opening credits. Criterion Collection’s new 4K restoration – supervised by director Martin Scorsese, with Robbie Robertson overseeing the soundtrack – ensures that cinema audiences can enjoy the best possible presentation of The Band’s epic 1976 farewell show at San Franciso’s Winterland Ballroom. The Canadian rockers were joined onstage by an array of special guests, including Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, The Staple Singers, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters and a totally wired Neil Young.


Part of the Postcards From The Edge Strand

Not your standard music documentary, Rewind & Play radically repurposes archival performance footage and interview outtakes from a revealing December 1969 episode of Parisian television programme Jazz Portrait, featuring Thelonious Monk. The pianist and composer’s iconic presence and otherworldly playing are pointedly contrasted with the show’s arrogant white studio host, who mistranslates Monk’s answers to patronising questions. Blending hypnotic sounds with uncomfortable conversation, it’s a sharp and witty snapshot of racial insensitivity from the acclaimed French-Senegalese director, Alain Gomis.


Part of the Night Moves Strand

This cinematic ‘anti-rock doc’ captures the sights, sounds and insecurities of Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett: bedroom recording artist turned Grammy-nominated reluctant star. Shooting on 16mm film over three years, her long-time video director Danny Cohen shows us both the guitar-slinging highs and hotel room lows of touring life. His evocative footage is accompanied by Barnett’s audio diaries, offering insights into the conflicted creative mind of a cat-loving introvert who can wow massive festival crowds but stumbles on the promotional trail.


Part of the Night Moves Strand

Regardless of the language you speak or where you were born, chances are you’ve heard Leonard Cohen’s seminal song, ‘Hallelujah’. The track has paved its way into our collective conscious in the four decades since its original release, largely thanks to Jeff Buckley’s iconic rendition and 2001’s hit animated film, Shrek. This comprehensive documentary explores Cohen’s history through the prism of his most famous song, with never-before-seen archival materials and the singer’s personal records crafting an all-encompassing study of the composer.

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