2010 Edinburgh Film Festival preview

Posted on: 15 June 2010 by Mark O'haire

The Illusionist has been chosen as the Opening Night Gala of the 2010 Edinburgh International Film Festival which runs from 16 June - 27 June.

An unfilmed script by that comic genius, the man affectionately known as ‘the French Charlie Chaplain’, namely Jacques Tati, now reached the screen in animated form in the appropriately titled The Illusionist and has been chosen as the Opening Night Gala of the 2010 Edinburgh International Film Festival which runs from 16 June - 27 June.

The Illusionist is one of a dying breed of stage entertainers, a man out of his time. With emerging rock stars stealing his thunder in the late 1950s, he is forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theatres, at garden parties and in bars and cafes. However, whilst performing in a village pub off the west coast of Scotland, he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl, who will change his life forever.

Watching his performance to the excited villagers who are celebrating the arrival of electricity on their remote island, Alice becomes awestruck by his show and believes his tricks are real magic. Following him to Edinburgh, she keeps his home while he goes to work in a small local theatre.

Enchanted by her enthusiasm for his act, he rewards her with increasingly lavish gifts he has ‘conjured’ into existence. Desperate not to disappoint her, he cannot bring himself to reveal that magic does not exist and that buying these gifts is driving him to ruin. But, as Alice comes of age, she finds love and moves on.

The Illusionist no longer has to pretend and untangled from his own web of deceit, resumes his life as a much wiser man.

This story of two paths that cross could be regarded as a love letter from a father to his daughter (in this case French cinema legend Jacques Tati to Sophie Tatischeff), while the script itself has waited for over half a century to be brought to life. Adaptor and director Sylvain Chomet who made the delightful Triplets of Belleville has here eschewed black humour for Tati’s innate poetry and with an absence of dialogue but a haunting musical score (also by Chomet), has created a charming film which is both funny and touching.

I’m sure Tati himself would have approved!

The festival itself will screen over 130 feature films from 34 countries including Werner Herzog’s latest My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?, based on a true story and providing an unnerving blend of deadpan comedy, melodrama and raw tragedy, with a cast including Willem Dafoe and Chloe Sevigny, Juan Jose Campanella’s gripping whodunit The Secret In Their Eyes, which won the 2010 Foreign Language Oscar, and Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3 in 3D with brand new characters alongside old favourites in this much loved animation franchise.

Ten new British films including Nick Moran’s The Kid, a gritty rags-to-riches life story of a successful British writer, and Bernard Rose’s Mr. Nice, described as ‘a wild biopic of the infamous Howard Marks, will compete for the UK Film Council-sponsored Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature.

Furthermore the closing film will also be British-Thrid Star, a tragic-comic buddy film by newcomer Hattie Dalton, which is said to be ‘a poignant paean to making the most of life-while you still can’.

This festival, whose previous successes include The Hurt Locker, Moon, Man on Wire, Little Miss Sunshine and Billy Elliott, looks set for another memorable year.

By Laurence Green

The 2010 Edinburgh International Film Festival runs from 16 June - 27 June 2010.

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