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7 must-see movies at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

Heading for the Fringe? Don’t sleep on these cinematic treats too

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

Not just a globally renowned arts fest, Edinburgh also hosts the world’s oldest continually running film festival (Cannes took a year off due to May ’68 protests). After a break of 14 years, the Edinburgh International Film Festival shifts back to its traditional late summer slot this year, and runs alongside the Festival Fringe from August 12-20.

On the programme are 87 new feature films from across the globe – as well as 12 short film programmes, talks, podcasts, and all the usual festival shindigs and shenanigans. The films will be screened at cinemas across Edinburgh, including the Filmhouse, Cameo Picturehouse, Everyman Edinburgh and Vue Edinburgh Omni Centre. Oh, and you can even catch some old favourites in the genteel surrounds of St Andrew Square at the fest’s outdoor screen. 

But what to prioritise when there’s so much? Our tip is to start with these seven films when tickets go on sale to the public at 10am on Friday, July 22.

best theatre shows at the Edinburgh Fringe 2022

7 films to see at the Edinburgh Film Festival

Nude Tuesday
Photograph: Edinburgh International Film Festival

1. Nude Tuesday

Those crazy Minions don’t have the monopoly on speaking gobbledygook this year, as this birthday-suited, gibberish-talking New Zealand comedy will prove when it crashlands into Auld Reekie with its la-las hanging out. Spoken entirely in a made-up language – think a combo of Swedish, elvish and something Will Ferrell might come up in a Netflix movie in which he plays an Icelandic bear trapper – its sex comedy blessed with Jemaine Clement (the Kiwi Ferrell) as a sex guru helping a middle-aged couple regain its mojo at a nudist-friendly new-age retreat. Definitely the most bonkers movie in town, and very possibly the funniest.

  • Film
  • Drama

‘Normal People’ breakout Paul Mescal continues his unstoppable rise with an irresistible,  emotional father-and-daughter drama that will punch your heart right in the face. Mescal is a divorced dad who takes his daughter to Turkey for a holiday some time in the ’90s, only to struggle in ways that’ll be relatable to, well, just about everyone. The festival opener, it’s a homecoming of sorts for its New York-based Scottish director, Charlotte Wells – as well as the beginning of a possible ’90s casual wear revival in the city. Raved about at Cannes, it’s guaranteed to win hearts and minds in Edinburgh too.

Please Baby Please
Photograph: EIFF

3. Please Baby Please

The fact that it’s being billed as ‘West Side Story’ by way of John Waters might be all you need to know – but if you really need another reason to see it, ‘Please Baby Please’ boasts on an on-song Andrea Riseborough and one-time Dudley Dursley, Harry Melling, as a newlywed ’50s couple who get entangled with a Jets-like gang of New York toughs. Directed by Amanda Kramer, it should be a satisfyingly subversive dive into sexual desire, gender identity, repression and violence. Oh, and Demi Moore cameos. 

Photograph: EIFF


With a soundtrack from The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and a plot from the more madcap end of World World II spectrum, this debut feature from Andrew Legge is an intriguing sci-fi on a line-up that’s fairly light on the genre. The premise has wartime sisters Thomasina and Martha Hanbury (Emma Appleton and ‘Prime Suspect 1973’s Stefanie Martini) building a machine that can intercept broadcasts from the future. But will they use it to help defeat the Nazis or check out ‘Aladdin Sane’ 32 years early? Bit of both, it turns out, in a film with a black-and-white aesthetic all of its own.
  • Film
  • Thrillers

Rebecca Hall stars alongside Tim Roth in a psychological thriller that left Sundance viewers a wrung-out mess and seems set to repeat the trick in Scotland. Hall is a single mum whose life is upturned by a vicious ex (Roth), who begins to go very ‘single white male’ on her. The two leads are great in a movie that plums its New York setting for opportunities to have its audience shifting uncomfortably in its seats. See it, then go grab a calming pint in the nearest Grassmarket pub.

  • Film
  • Comedy

An apt pick for such a gastronomic city, Peter Strickland’s latest gem is a culinary odyssey that offers a winningly strange blend of the hilarious and the horrifying. It’s set at an unnamed art institute where musical collectives are awarded month-long residencies for the purposes of ‘culinary performance’ using kitchen equipment. Cue rivalries, abstract sounds (conjured by Strickland’s own one-time music collective, The Sonic Catering Band) and an imperious Gwendoline Christie as the institute’s formidable boss. It’s guaranteed to be unlike anything else at the fest.

The Last Waltz
  • Film
  • Documentaries

Martin Scorsese put this classic concert doc together while simultaneously making ‘New York, New York’, because that’s the kind of baller move you make when you’re Martin Scorsese. Newly restored and 4K-ified, it’s an utter treat to soak up on the big screen and with The Band-enhancing surround sound. Honestly, you don’t even need to dig The Band or any of the small army of superstar musicians who cameo in it to get a massive kick out of this movie. Although it’d be hard not to by the time they’ve worked through the great American folk-rock songbook.

Head to the official EIFF site for all the programme info and ticket prices.

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