Penis envy: Bob Flanagan. self-proclaimed ‘supermasochist‘ in Sick

gScreen wonders


In what's probably the Festival’s strongest line-up of big name movies in the last decade, home-grown talent vies for attention with international stars. Stephen Fry is the famous playwright and wit in Wilde and Mike Leigh follows Secrets And Lies with Career Girls, a homage to student life in the 80s. Kevm Kline and Sigourney g Weaver team up in Ang Lee’s 70s-set The Ice Storm, Atom Egoyan's The

| Sweet Hereafter is the most movmg

3 film of the year, and for sCi-fi action, Event Horizon is a welcome late

I addition to the programme. Don't

'; forget The List-sponsored Mystery

i Movie - an exotement guarantee.


i The less mainstream strand of the festival also takes the world as its palette. A group of Glasgow women face up to local loansharks in the

5 world premiere of Bumping The Odds; Z a Swedish cop breaks the rules and pays the consequences in Insomnia; and 25-year-old Nicolas Winding Refn I stuns us with a week in the life of a

i Danish drug dealer in Pusher.

Each Film Festival section has its own special gems.


Like a down-market Howard Hawks, Edgar G. Ulmer swnched between genres, languishing at the bottom end of the budget allocations, but latterly praised by influential French critics. Bleak n0ir Detour and expressionist horror mowe The Black Cat are his best known films, but the retro also takes in his early German work and contributions to Yiddish Cinema.

Scene By Scene Edinburgh’s unique series of illustrated, detailed talks by filmmakers continues With the dissection of a true classic - Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle Of Algiers. Elsewhere, Cronenberg collaborator Howard Shore discusses the music for Crash and screenwriter Buck Henry takes apart The Graduate


Edinburgh again introduces a fully- fledged feature documentary section and regains its posnion at the forefront of festivals championing non-fictional filmmaking. Watch out for new works by Spike Lee (Four

Shock therapy

Controversy rages again at this year's Edinburgh Film Festival.

A man nails his penis to a block of wood. A female embalmer indulges in necrophilia. A couple of clean-cut boys force a woman to strip while terrorismg her family in their holiday home. Nope, cinema isn't all about splashing in puddles with Gene Kelly or cycling past the moon with ET. Controversy is part and parcel of the century’s most powerful medium.

Even before the scenes outlined above from, respectively, Sick, Kissed and Funny Games flicker through the prolectors at the Scottish Screen Edinburgh International Film Festival, counollors and religious leaders across Scotland are foaming at the mouth to condemn them. Without seeing the films first, of course.

A story about Sick in the Daily Mail, leader of the ’Ban Crash' campaign, has already drawn the expected responses from the usual suspects. Catholic Church spokesman Father Tom Connelly was reported as saying 'Some people think it’s clever, but it does not do anything to enhance an artistic City like Edinburgh', dismissmg the forthcoming August event as 'the world’s Sickest festival’. Edinburgh councillor M0ira Knox reckoned 'These people . . . should be locked away now instead of being paid to be film stars’.

It's unlikely that Bob Flanagan, the Subject of the superlative, unforget- table documentary Sick, was ever concerned about becoming a 'film star’. A life-long sufferer of cystic


fibrosis, Flanagan turned to masochism less for reasons of sexual pleasure than as a means of reclaiming his body through self-inflicted - as opposed to illness-related - pain. It's an unprecedentedly bravefilm, filled with humour and tinged with sadness as we witness Flanagan's inevitable decline and death. No need to lock him away, then.

In a world where we’re bombarded on a daily basis by millions of screen images, on TV and in the cinema, films like Sick are vital and necessary to allow art to continue as a forum for debate. It's all about context, and the film festival in Edinburgh has been that context since its inception. In recent years, controversial movies such as Crash, Nick Broomfield’s TV-banned documentary Fetishes and Australian skinhead drama Romper Stomper touched base in Edinburgh first of all. Those who saw them were given the opportunity to recognise their worth, to weigh up the questions they raised, to see beyond ignorance-fuelled hype and hysteria.

As it enters its Slst year, the Edinburgh International Film Festival shows no sign of the middle-aged prudery of its detractors. This year, hundreds of films will be screened, including romances, comedies, melodramas, kids adventures - in fact, the whole spectrum of cinema. And that includes a key number of challenging works that shock, not for shock's sake, but to wake us up from the sluggishness of media gluttony. This is what art is about, and exactly why an artistic city like Edinburgh is enhanced by their incluSion in its film festival.

(Alan Morrison) l Sick screens at the Filmhouse on Mon 78 and Fri 22 Aug.

Little Girls), Errol Morris (Fast, Cheap , 8: Out Of Control) and Chris Marker (Level 5)


A reVitalising addition to last year’s

programme, Mirrorball returns to

examine the dIVldlng line between . music promo and film art. All your

Stephen Fry turns a quick witticism in Wilde

MTV faves are on show, and there's a special look at Tokyo's JaZZ/hip hop scene, but pulses are already beginning to race over live appearances by Massive Attack and Icelandic collective Gus Gus.

I The Scottish Screen Edinburgh International Film Festival runs Sun lO—Sun 24 Aug.

25 Jul—7 Aug 1997 IIIEUSTN