EIFF 2009 Day 4

Another wet and miserable day, Edinburgh seems to be covered in fog and drizzle for 75% of the time. Is it like this all year? After a little tramping round for internet cafe's which didn't open when they said they would, I settled into the first film instead.

Follow the Master (UK) (Matt Hulse's site)
A tribute to the passing of his grandpa, Follow the Master follows Matt Hulse (the director), partner Lucy and their dog, Tippi along the South Downs Way from Winchester to Beachy Head, following the route his recently passed away grandpa Eric (the 'master' of the title) did many years before. Interspersed with birthday footage from his grandpas' last birthday party, the film switches forms between grainy Super 8 and modern colour and black and white footage of the trek as they lark about, meet fellow travellers, and air drum and sing songs in the wide open spaces. It's a personal record of a couple's golden years caught on film to be preserved forever, and we get an inspirational peek full of ideas for such a journey of our own. A film to be enjoyed at walking pace. 7/10

A Boy Called Dad (UK) (site)
Beginning in an impoverished corner of Liverpool, 14-year old Robbie (Kyle Ward) and his on-off girlfriend Leanne have a less than romantic encounter in a seaside pavilion. In spite of the odds, she manages to get herself pregnant, but doesn't want Robbie part of her future, preferring instead to have her older partner believe it's his. Robbie is in a bad situation; an under-age dad, living with his mum with no father figure to guide him, until said absent father almost runs him down one day and reluctantly gets arms-length back into his life. Robbie is more overjoyed than he lets on at regaining his dad, but Joe is still showing the same irresponsible streak that made him disappear in the first place, and in Robbie's heightened emotional state he takes control when he spots his kid and foster dad head into the public lav. It's one more of the 'gritty, council-estate'-style slice of life films, and is told with sharp scripting and touches of dark humour such that Robbie can grow and learn - Tsotsi-like - as he has to take responsibility for his actions. It's depressing beginning makes the end so much sweeter. 7.5/10

Atletu (The Athelete) (Ethiopia/Germany/US) (IMDB)
A biopic/documentary hybrid of the life of the Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila, who won the 1960 and 1964 olympic marathon events barefoot, the first time being the first of a long like of African atheletes to dominate the running events. This film begins in the year after his disappointing fifth place at the '68 olympics, where his national reputation was dealt a blow, and his determination to get back on track for the marathon in 1972. Told in loose narrative mostly from the point of view of Bikila as the life altering events of that time affect the path of the rest of his life, it wasn't until late on in the film I discovered how much emotional investment I had placed in the outcome. I enjoyed it, although it will likely appeal more to those with an interest in running. 7.5/10

Wide Open Spaces (Ireland, UK) (trailer)
What attracted me most to this film was that it had several contributors from Father Ted, and its narrative about two luckless friends and their encounter building Irelands' only Famine-based theme park in a disused tin mine had all the potential for a great Ted-inspired comedy. And whilst there were flashes of brilliance from the film - such as the big pink famine ship, the hopeless exhibits, and Timmy, the shotgun-wielding patrol guard reminiscent of FT's Tom - there was just too little content here to flesh out what would have worked quite well in a half-hours show, to the full 85 minutes. I don't want to sell the film too short, as it was enjoyable, but I think it should have been a one-off TV comedy instead. Shame. 7/10

That's the end of my Edinburgh film coverage, perhaps next year there will be enough in the coffers (and enough available holiday) to do the full shebang, but there were more than enough above-average films in the mix to make it well worthwhile. I managed to leave with a couple of free film posters (Mad, Sad and Bad and Terribly Happy, plus an EIFF one), a huge EIFF 2009 film catalogue, some hastily bought tourist tat, and a scottish tenner I found lying on the pavement. I'll be going again at some point come what may.

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