Saturday, 29 June 2019

In the Dells

Yesterday we managed to get a break from the Film Festival to spend time in the Dells along the Water of Leith. It was hot and sunny so we were very glad of the shade of the trees along much of the route.

So much nature to see including this majestic grey heron

this adorable long tailed tit (we saw an adult feeding a chick but couldn't capture that on film)

There were a few butterflies including red admirals and painted ladies but only this ringlet allowed Crafty Green Boyfriend to get close enough to photograph

There were plenty of hoverflies including this pellucid hoverfly (Volucella pellucens)

this Epistrophe grossulariae

this Melangyna compositarum or M. labiatarum

and this Leucozona glaucia

Leucozona glaucia used to be rarely recorded in Edinburgh until I started seeing it regularly in this stretch of the Water of Leith walkway. It demonstrates the need for more people to record groups such as hoverflies. If you're interested in getting to know more about hoverflies and starting to record them then the UK Hoverflies Scheme is very useful, they have a friendly and helpful Facebook group here. There are also some useful online identification sites out there including the Nature Spot Guide to Hoverflies; the All About Hoverflies page and Steven Falk's Flickr album of hoverfly photos (possibly the best of the three).

We've had a lot of rain recently so everything was looking green, especially the wonderful chandeliers of the hornbeam trees

the buttercup meadow

and the hidden orchid meadow

Such a lovely place to walk!

Thanks to Crafty Green Boyfriend who took most of the photos in this post. 








Carmilla - screening at Edinburgh International Film Festival

https://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/sites/edfilmfest.org.uk/files/2019/resource-collection/0828-Camilla-Photo%20Nick%20Wall.jpg


Inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic Gothic vampire novella, Carmilla is a beautifully made film from director Emily Harris. Sheltered 15-year-old Lara (Hannah Rae) lives with her father and strict governess Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine). She loves wandering in the lush grounds of the family estate and is fascinated by insects and decay. Lara is left handed and Miss Fontaine thinks this is a sign of the devil and binds Lara's left hand behind her back.

One day a carriage crash brings enigmatic young Carmilla (Devrim Lingnau) to recuperate at their house, she provides a welcome new companion for Lara.The pair begin a passionate friendship, but Lara becomes haunted by disturbing dreams that often feature Carmilla. Miss Fontaine remains distrustful of Carmilla and tries to warn Lara not to be overwhelmed by her feelings for her new friend.

This is a wonderfully atmospheric film shifting from the beautiful English countryside to the candle lit shadowy interiors of the large house. The mood shifts too from gentle romance to violent dreams.

Carmilla is nominated for the 2019 Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film.

Carmilla was given its world premiere as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019 on Friday 28 June and is screening again at 2030 Saturday 29 June at Vue Omni Centre (sold out)  It will also screen at 2000 Sunday 30 June at Filmhouse as part of the Best of the Fest. .You can buy tickets here.

**

You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?


Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.


Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.
 
Chef Diaries Scotland: Spanish Chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland

 Up the Mountain - a year in an artists' studio in the Chinese mountains.

The Amber Light - a cinematic ode to Scotland's national drink

Aren't You Happy (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a writer searches for the meaning of life while not actually writibg anything


The Deer - a Basque language film following two poachers in a national park on the outskirts of San Sebastien.

Hurt by Paradise - a poet keeps searching for a publisher and an actor keeps trying to get a role

Photograph (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a street photographer in Mumbai invents a fiancee for himself....

Endzeit - an ecofeminist road movie with zombies. 


Vai and Venezia - 2 films from sinking worlds. 

Hamada - (on my Shapeshiting Green blog) life for young refugees of the Sahwari people in the Sahara. 

Volcano - a photpgrapher gets lost in Ukraine

Black Forest - a dysfunctional family holiday in the German forest  

Two SF Films at the festival (on my Shapeshifting Green blog). 



Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.

Friday, 28 June 2019

The Black Forest - premiered at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019

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Writer-director Ruth Platt’s The Black Forest follows two dysfunctional British families spending a summer break together in the Black Forest near the beautiful historic city of Freiburg in Germany. 

Right from the start it's obvious that this isn't going to be as relaxing a trip as everyone might hope. There are immediate tensions with one family arriving late and their mother paying obsessive attention to her mobile phone, barely lifting her face to say hello to the other family. The six children together run wild in the holiday cottage. The families can't agree on how to spend the holiday, one family wanting to organise everything to a strict timetable, the other just wanting to take things easy. 

They take a walk up to the beautiful waterfalls near their cottage, trek through the Black Forest and visit the funfairs that offer amazing views of the Black Forest from their cable cars and fairground rides. While the children enjoy the moment, whether that's the excitement of the fairground or immersing themselves in nature, the parents argue and bicker. Secrets and tensions come out in the open. 

We're often told getting out into nature is good for our mental health, but i'M not sure that works for the adults in these families!

This will be a holiday to remember, and life probably won't be the same for any of the party when they retum home - but will the changes be for the better or worse? (Meanwhile, in a different wooded part of Germany, another very different story is unfolding in Endzeit (which I review here).

 The Black Forest was nominated for the 2019 Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film.
 
The Black Forest received its world premiere as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival at 1825, Thursday 27 June at the Odeon, Lothian Road and screens again at 1530 Saturday 29 June at Vue Omni Centre. You can book tickets here


You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?

Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.

Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.

Chef Diaries Scotland: Spanish Chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland

 Up the Mountain - a year in an artists' studio in the Chinese mountains.

The Amber Light - a cinematic ode to Scotland's national drink

Aren't You Happy (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a writer searches for the meaning of life while not actually writing anything

The Deer - a Basque language film following two poachers in a national park on the outskirts of San Sebastien. 




Hurt by Paradise - a poet struggles to find a publisher, an actresss struggles to get a part. 



Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Volcano - film review

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Directed by Roman Bondarchuk, Volcano follows interpreter Lukas (Serhiy Stepansky), who is accidentally abandoned by a UN-like governmental team while on a mission to the Ukrainian border region near Crimea. With nowhere to turn, this city boy finds shelter at the home of a local man, Vova who lives with his daughter and mother. 

Although this is a film about life in a conflict zone, it's also about survival in environmentally difficult circumstances. Vova and his family have an erratic water supply even though they live near a large reservoir. This reservoir was created by flooding a nearby village. The women who used to live in this village have formed a choir that wanders round the countryside singing on random occasions. 

Lukas asks Vova's mother why she stays despite the conflicts and the difficulties with the water supply and her answer is that the land, the water and the steppe hold her there. 

Lukas is an infuriatingly pasive character, who seems unable to make a decision for himself or to get himself out of the situation he finds himself in. There also seems to be no character development for him through the course of the film. 

It's a distinctly odd film and at least for this reviewer not the comedy it is billed as being.

Volcano is screening as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019 at 1540 Saturday 29 June at Odeon Lothian Road and at 1330 Sunday 30 June at Vue Omni Centre. You can buy tickets here.  


You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?

Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.

Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.

Chef Diaries: Scotland - Spanish chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland.

Up the Mountain - a year in an artists' studio in the Chinese mountains.

The Amber Light - a cinematic ode to Scotland's national drink

Aren't You Happy (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a writer searches for the meaning of life while not actually writing anything

The Deer - a Basque language film following two poachers in a national park on the outskirts of San Sebastien.

Hurt by Paradise - a poet keeps searching for a publisher and an actor keeps trying to get a role

Photograph (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a street photographer in Mumbai invents a fiancee for himself....

Endzeit - an ecofeminist road movie with zombies. 


Vai and Venezia - 2 films from sinking worlds. 


Hamada - (on my Shapeshiting Green blog) life for young refugees of the Sahwari people in the Sahara.



Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Two films from sinking worlds - screening at Edinburgh International Film Festival


 https://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/sites/edfilmfest.org.uk/files/2019/resource-collection/Vai_Solomon_Islands_Director_Matasila_Freshwater.jpg

'The sea is what binds us, we cry and sweat salt tears'

A beautiful film about female empowerment and eco-consciousness, Vai is made up of segments directed by nine female Pacific filmmakers and shot in seven different Pacific countries: Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Kuki Airani (Cook Islands), Samoa, Niue and Āotearoa (New Zealand). It follows the life of Vai, played by a series of different indigenous actors in each of the Pacific countries, from a small child in Fiji through to an elderly woman in Āotearoa. In each nation, ‘vai’ means water in the local language.

Each segment of her story is fashioned by the culture of the island nation it is made in, but at the same time they all add together as steps on a universal female lifestory from young girl to grandmother. Water is always a strong presence - the search for drinking water, the power of the rain, the importance of fishing and the use of water from a sacred waterfall in a Maori naming ceremony.

Vai as she becomes older develops a real awareness of the importance of the oceans from finding trash in the ocean when she is fishing to studying eco-anthropology in New Zealand to protesting against unsustainable fishing practices. Surprisingly though there's no mention of climate change or rising sea levels which are great concerns in these island nations.

Vai always maintains her connections to her home island nation - she studies in New Zealand because she wants to go home to protect the ocean and then does exactly that. At the same time she respects the local traditions (though sometimes feels uncomfortable within them).

The film includes beautiful sequences around traditional ritual and celebrations. It's a celebration of female lives and Pacific cultures. But it would be improved still further by at least a mention of those rising seas.

NB: In this review I have used New Zealand to refer to the segment of the film where Vai is a Samoan student in New Zealand and Āotearoa to refer to the last segment of the film where Vai is a Maori grandmother, reflecting the way the country was named in the film.



Vai is nominated for the 2019 Award for Best International Feature Film and would be my choice to win this award.

Vai is screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival at 1800, Friday 28 June at Odeon Lothian Road and at 1320 Saturday 29 June at Vue Omni. You can buy tickets here

Another film in which rising seas are a constant unspoken presence is Venezia.

 https://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/sites/edfilmfest.org.uk/files/2019/resource-collection/VENEZIA_02.JPG
Sophia (Paula Lussi) is an Argentian wandering alone in Venice. She is drowning in grief, an emotional state that finds unspoken metaphor in the fact that Venice is sinking and in the tides of tourists flooding the city. It's visually beautiful, shot in muted colours to reflect the protagonist's state of mind. Most of the Italian dialogue in not given subtitles, to reflect that Sophia herself can't understand it (though as a Spanish speaker, surely she would be able to understand some Italian and respond in Spanish, which then the Italians would be able to understand if not speak? I don't speak Spanish but I understand a fair bit because I speak Italian).


Venezia has already had its two screenings at the film festival.

You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?

Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.

Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.

Chef Diaries: Scotland - Spanish chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland.

Up the Mountain - a year in an artists' studio in the Chinese mountains.

The Amber Light - a cinematic ode to Scotland's national drink

Aren't You Happy (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a writer searches for the meaning of life while not actually writing anything

The Deer - a Basque language film following two poachers in a national park on the outskirts of San Sebastien.

Hurt by Paradise - a poet keeps searching for a publisher and an actor keeps trying to get a role

Photograph (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a street photographer in Mumbai invents a fiancee for himself....


Endzeit - an ecofeminist road movie with zombies.

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.


Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Endzeit (Ever After) - screening at Edinburgh International Film Festival

 https://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/sites/edfilmfest.org.uk/files/2019/resource-collection/EZ-6736graded.JPG

I don't generally watch zombie movies but the promise of an eco-feminst zombie movie definitely appealed.

Endzeit (which translates directly as End time rather than Ever After), directed by Carolina Hellsgärd, is based on screenwriter Olivia Vieweg's graphic novel of the same name. The action is set in a post apocalyptic Germany where only two cities survive, Weimar (where those infected by zombies are killed on sight) and Jena (where they are searching for a cure). Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof)  has been kept in a psychiatric hospital in Weimar after being traumatised at being unable to save her sister from a zombie attack but leaves to join the border patrol. Here she meets fearless zombie killer Eva (Maja Lehrer) who also has secret traumas.

The two mismatched young women separately flee town to reach  Jena and have to negotiate their way through unchartered lands. Wildlife is thriving in unexpected places and the landscape is lush and rich, having had a couple of years to recover from some of the mistreatment humans have meted out over the centuries.

"Earth is a wise old woman" says Eva "humans haven't paid her much rent recently and this is our eviction notice".

As they try to reach Jena they come across abandoned castles, mysterious beings and not enough drinking water. Will they be able to reach safety, will humanity be able to find a way to survive in balance with nature?

The feminism that is evident in the storyline is followed through in production as most of (all of?) the crew are women.

I did feel there could have been more character development of Eva and Vivi, surely Eva should have overcome some of her timidity during her travels? But overall I thought this was an excellent, thought provoking, beautifully made film.It will be interested to hear what Crafty Green Boyfriend thinks of it once he's seen it as he's a real zombie fan....

Endzeit is screeing as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival at 1820 Friday at Odeon Lothian Road and 1535 Saturday 29 at Vue Omni Centre. You can buy tickets here.

You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?

Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.

Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.


Chef Diaries: Scotland - Spanish chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland.

Up the Mountain - a year in an artists' studio in the Chinese mountains.

The Amber Light - a cinematic ode to Scotland's national drink

Aren't You Happy (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a writer searches for the meaning of life while not actually writing anything

The Deer - a Basque language film following two poachers in a national park on the outskirts of San Sebastien.

Hurt by Paradise - a poet keeps searching for a publisher and an actor keeps trying to get a role

Photograph (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a street photographer in Mumbai invents a fiancee for himself....

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Hurt by Paradise - film review

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Hurt By Paradise is the debut feature by poet/actor/director Greta Bellamacina. It is the story of single parent Celeste (played by Bellamacina) and her unsuccessful attempts to get her first poetry book published.  It also follows her search for her estranged father, and her friendship with her babysitter Stella (played by co-writer Sadie Brown) - a middle-aged actor continously chasing auditions and getting caought up in an online relationship with a guy who won't even send her a photo of himself.

The friendship between the two women is foregrounded beautifully, how they support each other despite their disagreement.

The film's real strength is in showing that world inhabited by struggling artists, where the world of success seems unattainable. How do you get to be one of the people welcomed into an audition with air kisses when you're turned away from the audition because they've already found the person they want (the one they air-kissed obviously)? How do you get your poetry published when the editor flicks through your work and says nothing other than he admires your determination then interrupts your interview to take a phone call from someone he then proceeds to shower with praise about their poetry?

Greta Bellamacina's poetry is woven in to the film as voice over to beautiful panning shots of London's cityscapes and greenspaces. There's a lovely rhythm to her poetry and some memorable phrases (eg 'God is bored of us now') but it was perhaps a little self indulgent to include quite so much poetry.

The film also has a wonderful musical soundtrack and some great vintage / vintage-inspired clothing. It's shot in an atmospheric black and white, with moments of colour. Though it's billed as a comedy drama I didn't find it particularly funny except for the occasional humorous comment.

Hurt By Paradise was made with a majority-female crew.

This film would make an interesting double bill with Aren't You Happy? a German film about a writer who can't write, shot in a beautiful colour palette. You can read my review of that here

Hurt by Paradise got its world premiere as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival at  1800 at Filmhouse amd will screen again at 2025 Saturday 24 June at Vue Omni Centre. You can buy tickets here.

You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?

Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.

Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.

Chef Diaries Scotland: Spanish Chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland

 Up the Mountain - a year in an artists' studio in the Chinese mountains.

The Amber Light - a cinematic ode to Scotland's national drink

Aren't You Happy (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a writer searches for the meaning of life while not actually writing anything


The Deer - a Basque language film following two poachers in a national park on the outskirts of San Sebastien.

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

The Deer - screening at Edinburgh International Film Festival


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José Ramón (Patxi Bisquert) and Martin (Ramon Agirre) are brothers living on the outskirts of San Sebastián in the Basque region of Spain. They live in separate apartments in the same building but don't speak to each other. Martin is a disgraced academic. José is a poacher, taking wildlife from the neighbouring national park helped by his young assistant, biker Khalil (Laulad Ahmed). Some of what they poach is for subsistence but they also sell items to foreigners. They are being tailed by employees of the national park but so far have evaded capture. 

The beauty of the marshes and their wildlife makes a severe contrast with the run down town.

It's a slow film with little dialogue, which is a shame as there can't be many films made in the Basque language, which is a language isolate, unrelated to other languages and spoken only in this part of the world. Most of us don't get much opportunity to hear it and personally I would have liked to have heard a lot more of it in this film.


The Deer is screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival at 2050, Monday 24 June at Odeon Lothian Road at at 1805, Wednesday 26 June at Vue Omni Centre. You can buy tickets here


You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?


Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.


Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.


Chef Diaries Scotland: Spanish Chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland

 Up the Mountain - a year in an artists' studio in the Chinese mountains.

The Amber Light - a cinematic ode to Scotland's national drink

Aren't You Happy (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) - a writer searches for the meaning of life while not actually writibg anything

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.


The Amber Light - a film about whisky

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The Amber Light is a cinematic journey through Scottish whisky culture, visiting distilleries and pubs across the country. Spirits writer Dave Broom investigates the history and mythology of his national drink and its links to music and literature.

The history of whisky reveals it to have been first distilled as a medicinal product by doctors on the island of Islay, still a very important centre for whisky production. Over time the medicinal aspect of the drink has lessened (though I know lots of people who alleviate the suffering of a cold with a hot toddy of whisky, lemon, honey and hot water and I've found whisky to be the best possible cure for toothache).

During the film Broom interviews Scottish writers Ian Rankin and Alasdair Gray about their feelings on the place of whisky in the Scottish literary scene. Enough to make me feel I can never become a proper writer if I don't develop a proper appreciation for the drink.

Whiskies have their own individual flavour, influenced by elements including the water and soil of the area where they are distilled, ranging from the Highlands and Islands to the mellow lowland whisky of Daftmill Distillery in Fife.

My favourite scene in the film was where Broom joined foragers using a small still to distill whisky from foraged wild plants including angelica and hogweed, thus recreating an ancient type of whisky.


The Amber Light is nominated for the 2019 Award for Best Documentary Feature Film.

The Amber Light received it's world premier as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019 at 1810, Saturday 22 June and will screen again at 2020 Sunday 23 June, both at Odeon Lothian Road. It will also screen at 1815 on Sunday 23 June (again at Odeon) as part of the Best of the Fest strand.

This would make an ideal triple bill with:

Chef Diaries (which has screened twice at the film festival, you can read my review here) and Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil which is screening at 1310 Sunday 23 June, at Odeon Lothian Road. You can book tickets here and read my review here.


You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

  Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?

Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.

Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Up the Mountain - film review

 https://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/sites/edfilmfest.org.uk/files/2019/resource-collection/UptheMountainCROP.jpg

A group of women, mostly elderly, gather in the studio painting with artist Shen Jianhua in Dali, Yunnan Province.The studio is situated up a mountain with inspiring views of the nearby lake and surrounded by fields that are bright with wildflowers in the Spring and Summer. An ideal setting to spend time slowly painting, singing, eating together and gossiping, which is exactly what the women do. The vibrant paintings they create reflect the landscapes and animals around them and the events of the life of the local community. Alongside the women, a young man is also studying with Shen  and is torn between staying and becoming a painter or marrying his girlfriend from another part of China and moving to the city with her.

In contrast to the mountainside studio, Dali itself is a busy, vibrant historical town which holds loud and exuberent festivals and attracts large numbers of tourists. The local costumes and architecture are very distinctive and beautifully shown.

This meditative film follows a year in the studio, documenting the events of the community, the festivals, a funeral, a wedding, the birth of a child and a litter of kittens. The women interpret all this in their canvases. 

This is a wonderfully immersive film to relax into, enjoy its slow rhythm and be transported to the mountains of central China.

Up the Mountain is screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival at 2020 Monday 24 June at Filmhouse and at  1810 Wednesday 26 June at Odeon Lothian Road. You can book tickets here


You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?

Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.

Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.  


Chef Diaries Scotland: Spanish chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland.
 

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.

Sunshine in Saughton Park


This morning I took a break from reviewing the Edinburgh International Film Festival to stroll round Saughton Park, alongside the Water of Leith. The park which recently received funding from the Big Lottery Fund to restore its historical features and had been closed for a while but is now open to the public again. The bandstand looks nice in its new position in the centre of the Walled Garden - seein in the background of this photo of the Physic Garden

It was quite a cool, windy morning but there were plenty of bees in the flower borders, including buff and white tailed bumblebees (I struggle to tell the difference between these two common and very similar species)
 

Plus this cuckoo bee (thanks to David from Edinburgh Natural History Society for identifying this for me)


early bumble bees

and honey bees

there were also common carder bees and tree bumble bees but they didn't want to be photographed. There were several seven spot ladybirds

 and their larvae

and a few hoverflies which were too fast to get decent photos.....

The wild flower verges are all looking lovely just now




There were a good number of birds around including swifts, house martins, a goldcrest, song thrushes and blackbirds.



Thursday, 20 June 2019

Chef Diaries Scotland

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The three Roca brothers started out as cooks at their parents' Catalan bar/restaurant and are now considered to be culinary celebrities with their Michelin-starred restaurant El Celler de Can Roca. In this documentary they set out to explore the culinary delights of Scotland. From Àrbroath Smokies to oysters from the Isle of Skye to haggis in Dingwall and Aberlour's barrel-aged whisky—this is a real culinary road trip through stunning Scottish scenery.

The diet of the average Scot is usually considered to be unhealthy and unimaginative (though this is changing). The film makes the point that most of the best Scottish produce, particularly seafood, is exported overseas. The Scottish farmers and restauranteurs interviewed here are passionate about good quality, locally produced ingredients though also knowledgeable about how Scottish food has always benefited from foreign influence (the East Asian spices included in haggis for example). The Highland cattle featured are free range and eat a natural diet. A lot of emphasis was put on Scotland's wild larder, though I felt more could have been said about how to make foraging and fishing genuinely sustainable. I'm also not at all convinced by arguments on sustainable wildfowling being at all possible, given how many of our wildfowl species are declining in number.

It's always interesting to see things you think you know well from a different perspective and this documentary is no exception. The brothers compare and contrast Scottish and Spanish did and farming, noting such differences as the fact that Scotland has less sunshine which means our soft fruits ripen more slowly and are sweeter as a result. They also commit to producing a menu inspired by Scottish ingredients and recipes but with a distinctly Spanish flavour. The fact that most of the dishes were meat based did mean that as a vegetarian I wasn't tempted, though I have to say they looked impressive.


Chef's Diairies Scotland is screening as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019 at 2035 Friday 21 June at Odeon Lothian Road and 13.00 Saturday 22 June at Filmhouse. Tickets can be booked here.

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If this film appeals to you, why not make a three course film event out of it along with:

The Amber Light which gets its world premier at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019 at 1810, Saturday 22 June and screens again at 2020 Sunday 23 June, both at Odeon Lothian Road. (Review to follow).

and Virgin and Extra: Land of Olive Oil screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019 at 1540, Saturday 22 June and at 1310 Sunday 23 June, both at Odeon Lothian Road. You can book tickets here.You can read my review of Virgin and Extra here.



You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?


Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.


Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.




Virgin and Extra: The Land of the Olive Oil (film review)

 https://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/sites/edfilmfest.org.uk/files/2019/resource-collection/Ja%C3%A9nVirgenandExtra_Fotopel%C3%ADcula_17254%20LOW.jpg


This fascinating documentary explores the history and heritage of olive oil in Jaén, which produces almost half of Spain's olive oil. The film shines a light on the complexity of the product, the diversity of its flavours and colours, the varied ways it is used in cooking, together with its status as a superfood and many recognised health benefits. 

Watching the film, I was astonished by how much of the area is covered in olive groves, extending seemingly forever. Some of them are quite bare of other vegetation, but a couple of interviewees in the film described their concerns for biodiversity and how some of the farms at least are working to increase their biodiversity with ground cover crops. 

Virgin and Extra Virgin olive oils are in themselves relatively new products and it was interesting to watch the competition to find the best oil and hear the judges talk about how many more great oils there are these days than there used to be. Also interesting to see the olives actually being processed into oil. Virgin and extra virgin oils are extracted mechanically and don't contain additives, which mean they are tastier and healthier than other oils. 

Since reading this article I've become very concerned about how olives are harvested, as some of the mechanical methods result in the deaths of large numbers of birds. So I was watching this film very carefully to see how the olives were actually harvested and it seems that in the featured farms at least, the olives are picked mostly by hand with mechanisation used only to transport them. If you want to source a bird friendly olive oil (edited to add, my blogpost on this topic is now up here) you may want to do more research on this, but Jaen based The Green Gold Olive Oil Company certainly harvests its olives manually. 

Virgin and Extra is definitely an interesting film for foodies and you may even pick up some ideas for delicious recipes from some of the featured chefs!

Virgin and Extra is screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019 at 1540, Saturday 22 June and at 1310 Sunday 23 June, both at Odeon Lothian Road. You can book tickets here.

If you're interested in the role of olive trees in agriculture and culture then you may also be interested in The Olive Tree, screening as part of the Spanish strand at this years Edinburgh International Film Festival. I saw this excellent and moving film when it was first shown at the festival in 2016. You can read my review here.  

 https://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/sites/edfilmfest.org.uk/files/2019/resource-collection/07843-joseharo_29162210886_o.jpg

The Olive Tree is screening as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival at 1800, Saturday 29 June at Odeon Lothian Road. You can buy tickets here

You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:

Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.

2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?

 Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world

How to Fake  a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?

Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.