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Cinema Under the Stars: Edinburgh International Film Festival’s Mesmerizing Weekend of Outdoor Screenings


On the enchanting weekend of August 19th and 20th, the Edinburgh International Film Festival invites you to indulge in a mesmerizing and diverse selection of outdoor screenings.

Set in the picturesque Old College Quad, nestled within the University of Edinburgh’s scenic surroundings, prepare to be captivated by a dreamy cinematic experience like no other.

This year the film festival mixes family-friendly titles with artists’ films, a live soundtrack to a classic, a wuxia-influenced double-bill, and some cracking new films, in a programme set to make your heart sing. Includes collaborations with Edinburgh International Festival, Alchemy Film & Arts and Hippodrome Silent Film Festival (HippFest).

All screenings are ticketed, and priced as Pay What You Can, £2, £4 or £6 per screening. Further information can be found on the EIFF website.

“With Cinema under the Stars we welcome Edinburgh audiences to a weekend of gorgeous, imaginative and uplifting films. We’re particularly excited to present previews of new feature films Scrapper, surely the most charming UK film of the year, and Let The Canary Sing, a film infused with infectious New York punk pop energy. Additionally we’ve got Oscar®-winners, we’ve got cats, and we’ve got Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung as lover assassins. Time to bust out the picnic blanket for a magical weekend.”

Kate Taylor, EIFF Programme Director

“The University is proud to be part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, both as a venue partner and a supporter of their programming. We look forward to welcoming film fans to enjoy the delights of outdoor cinema in our iconic Old College Quad this August for the 76th iteration of the festival.”

Lorna Brain, Head of Festivals at the University of Edinburgh

Spotlight screening | Scrapper | Dir. Charlotte Regan | UK |

Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Charlotte Regan’s highly-anticipated debut feature is a heartwarming drama about the reunion between a father and his young daughter.

Georgie is perfectly happy refusing to accept that her mom has passed away. She makes do by herself in her mum’s flat, with some light hustling and some help from the neighbours. That is, until her estranged dad Jason (Harris Dickinson; Triangle of Sadness) shows up to, like, take care of her or something. Slowly, tenderly, they find their footing with each other as they reconcile Georgie’s grief and Jason’s embrace of fatherhood.

Charlotte Regan is an alumna of the EIFF Talent Lab 2018, and we’re delighted to welcome her back to present the film.

Spotlight Screening | Let the Canary Sing | Dir. Alison Ellwood | UK, USA |

From the opening bars of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, this rousing documentary is a fascinating trip through the life and times of Cyndi Lauper, an immensely charismatic and constantly rebellious creative force. Over amazing footage of her working-class New York childhood and early downtown punk gigs, Lauper talks frankly and thoughtfully about the whirlwind of 1980s success, as well as her AIDS activism and her subsequent creative renaissance as an award-winning writer of musicals. Alison Ellwood’s new documentary repositions the singer not as a pop culture artefact but as an artist in a state of constant reinvention, and a life-long feminist who has always stood up for others. Prepare to be charmed ‘Time After Time’.

Spotlight screening | The Wool Aliens (and other films) | Dir. Julia Parks | UK |

Four gorgeous short films by artist Julia Parks, each a 16mm portrait of community action and the natural environment, created during a residency in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. This screening – which includes the shorts The Wool Aliens, Tell Me About The Burryman, Burnfoot Grows and All Flesh Is Grass – will be preceded by a performance by musician Miwa Nagato-Apthorp. Presented in association with Alchemy Film & Arts.

Spotlight screening | Safety Last! ft. Live Accompaniment | Dirs. Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor |

On the centenary of its release, a classic of the silent era, presented with live musical accompaniment by acclaimed Scottish silent film pianist Mike Nolan. Featuring a nerve-rackingly funny performance by the “King of daredevil comedy” Harold Lloyd. This screening is presented in partnership with HippFest, Scotland’s first and only festival dedicated to silent film.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain | Dir. Will Sharpe |

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the eponymous painter of wide-eyed cats, in this love letter to creativity and misunderstood genius. Director Will Sharpe’s magnificent ode to oddity will pull at the whiskers of your heart.  

Everything Everywhere All At Once | Dirs. Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert |

This multi-Oscar®-winning film creates an unclassifiable meld of action, sci-fi, drama, comedy and romance, with award-winning performances from Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis. Now outdoors!

Hero | Dir. Zhang Yimou |

This big-screen action epic is a riot of colour and jaw-dropping fight sequences and features a stirring soundtrack by Oscar®-winner Tan Dun – also the composer of Buddha Passion, the opening concert of the Edinburgh International Festival.

The Lego Movie | Dirs. Christopher Miller, Phil Lord |

Fighting the tyrannical hands of capitalism has never been so awesome!!! A host of stars build a homage to the creative power of imagination that is as inspirational as it is fun. Plus, it features one of the cinema’s all-time catchiest songs.

Parasite | Dir. Bong Joon-Ho |

A sharp commentary on class inequality neatly delivered as a skin-tingling thriller. Features a stirring soundtrack by Jang Jae-il – also composer of Trojan Women, which is being staged as part of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish | Dir. Joel Crawford |

Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) has just one of his nine lives left. Our hero embarks on a mighty quest to try to restore his feline privileges.

Cinema under the Stars is supported by the Platforms for Creative Excellence (PLaCE) programme funded by the Scottish Government (through Creative Scotland), the City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Festivals.

The special 2023 edition programme for Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), which this year is hosted by Edinburgh International Festival, celebrates the work of exceptional local and global filmmakers, ensuring the flame of independent cinema burns bright for future generations of passionate film fans.

EIFF is funded by Screen Scotland; enhanced engagement activities are supported by the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund and the Platforms for Creative Excellence (PlaCE) programme, a partnership between the Scottish Government (through Creative Scotland), the City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Festivals.

Tickets are now on sale via https://www.eif.co.uk/edfilmfest

Edinburgh International Film Festival runs from Friday 18 to Wednesday 23 August 2023. 

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