Alistair Harkness: Eclectic Edinburgh International Film Festival programme still takes risks

THIS year's Edinburgh International Film Festival looks set to offer up a typically eclectic programme of new cinema from around the world.

The festival's ongoing effort to position itself as a "festival of discovery" means that, at first glance, it's never easy to identify what the talking points will likely be, but it's heartening to see that there is still an element of risk taking.

The closing night gala, for instance, has been given over to a debut British filmmaker, Hattie Dalton, who follows up some award-winning short films with her first feature, Third Star.

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It's also good to see former Edinburgh discoveries are going to be among the biggest draws, most notably Paul Andrew Williams, whose new film Cherry Tree Lane will hopefully see him recapture the magic of his remarkable London to Brighton.

The geek contingent the film festival has been cultivating in the past couple of years is well catered for with premieres of the documentaries The People vs George Lucas and Superhero Me, and a BAFTA interview with Patrick Stewart.

On the Scottish front, while it's disappointing that Kevin Macdonald's Roman epic Eagle of the Ninth, Peter Mullan's Neds, and David Mackenzie's The Last Word are all absent, the films with a Scottish link certainly seem stronger than some of the atrocious efforts that have premiered here over the last couple of festivals (stand-up Wasted and Stone of Destiny).

There's also the Edinburgh set horror film Outcast, though perhaps the most intriguing new Scottish filmmaking talent will be Diane Bell, whose eccentric-sounding film, Obselidia, about a man who obsessively catalogues obsolete objects, proved a big favourite at Sundance.

The film that has jumped straight to the top of my can't-wait-to-see list is My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? A collaboration between Werner Herzog and David Lynch. Let's hope it's as deranged and out there as its makers' pedigree suggest it will be.

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