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A view on Docu selection for next Edinburgh

Artistic Director Hannah McGill announced today that the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) will showcase twenty-two documentary features including Chris Waitt’s A COMPLETE HISTORY OF MY SEXUAL FAILURES; Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award Winner MAN ON WIRE directed by BAFTA nominee James Marsh, and Errol Morris’ Berlin International Film Festival Jury Grand Prix winner, STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE.

Chris Waitt’s film is a comical documentation of the filmmaker’s own journey to interview all of his ex-girlfriends about where he went wrong. James Marsh’s film is about Philippe Petit, a man who in August 1974 tight-rope walked between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. Both films will screen in the British Gala section and Waitt, Marsh and his subject Petit are due to attend the EIFF. The Academy Award® winning director, Errol Morris (THE THIN BLUE LINE, THE FOG OF WAR) is also expected to be present at the Festival for the screening of his film, which will be showing in the Gala section. Morris’ documentary examines the incidents of abuse and torture of suspected terrorists at the hands of US forces at the Abu Ghraib prison.

The Document Section showcases nineteen films, all of which, along with the three Gala titles will be eligible for Best Documentary Feature, an award which recognises a singular and compelling achievement in non-fiction filmmaking,

It is hoped that Errol Morris’ long time friend and associate, Werner Herzog, will be in Edinburgh for the UK premiere of his film ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD which will be showing in the Document Section at the Festival. Erik Nelson, producer on Herzog’s Antartica documentary, will have two films in the Festival, the second being his feature film directorial debut, DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH, which explores the life and work of science fiction writer Harlan Ellison (THE OUTER LIMITS, STAR TREK). Ellison is expected to attend the event.

Another of Herzog’s regular collaborators, German actor Klaus Kinski, is the subject of JESUS CHRIST SAVIOR (JESUS CHRISTUS ERLÖSER), directed by Peter Geyer. The film is a long-lost record of a 1971 theatrical monologue that became an endurance test for the actor, who was faced with an audience wanting a discussion, rather than a sermon.

The section includes a selection of films from eleven different countries. In addition to Peter Geyer’s film, Germany is also represented by ALONE IN FOUR WALLS (ALLEIN IN VIER WÄNDEN), by Alexandra Westmeier. Scandinavian offerings include Danish director Phie Ambo’s MECHANICAL LOVE and PARADISE (PARADISET), by Swedish director Jerzy Sladkowski.

Sweden provides the backdrop for British filmmakers Robert Cannan and Corinna Villari-McFarlane’s THREE MILES NORTH OF MOLKOM, a quirky rollercoaster ride through the experiences of the participants at a spiritual festival in Sweden. Other titles from the UK which will feature in the Document Section, include Neasa Ni Chianain’s FAIRYTALE OF KATHMANDU, a UK and Ireland co-production; WE WENT TO WONDERLAND, a China and UK co-production directed by Xiaolu Guo; and Gideon Koppel’s Wales-set SLEEP FURIOUSLY, which will be having its World Premiere at the EIFF.

Nine of the documentary features originate from the United States. These include Daniel O’Connor and Neil Ortenberg’s OBSCENE which chronicles the life and times of publisher Barney Rosset, who has battled censorship and hypocrisy at every turn; Ron Davis and Stewart Halpern’s PAGEANT which follows five male contestants competing in the Miss Gay America Pageant; Margaret Brown’s THE ORDER OF MYTHS which examines the culture of the community of Mobile, Alabama whose existing segregation is symbolised by two annual Mardi Gras parades – one organized by the city’s white families and one by the black community; and C. Karim Chrobog’s WAR CHILD, the story of a rising hip hop star, who as a child was taken from his family and forced to fight in the Sudanese civil war. Argentina has Miguel Kohan’s CAFÉ DE LOS MAESTROS, a film about the origins of Tango, executive produced by Walter Salles.

There is a strong female presence in the subject matter of the line-up, with Israeli director Tamar Yarom’s TO SEE IF I’M SMILING (LIROT IM ANI MEHAYECHET), the story of women who served in the occupied territories; Louise Hogarth’s ANGELS IN THE DUST, a film telling the inspiring story of Marion Cloete, who fearlessly walked away from a privileged life in a wealthy Johannesburg suburb to establish Boikarabelo, a village and school providing shelter, food, and education to orphaned South African children; and David Schisgall’s VERY YOUNG GIRLS which examines the issue of child prostitution in the United States. THE ART STAR AND THE SUDANESE TWINS, directed by Pietra Brettkelly, is New Zealand’s offering which follows performance artist Vanessa Beecroft on a mission to adopt two Third World children.

EIFF started life as a documentary Festival, and the extensive Document Section at 2008’s Festival, which will be taking place Wednesday 18 - Sunday 29 June 2008, shows that the commitment to present a broad range of extraordinary true life stories from around the world is a strong as ever. Even more documentaries are in the Mirrorball music section and will be announced along with the rest of the programme

Hannah McGill commented, "The scope and quality of the documentaries we have viewed this year is incredibly impressive. It was very hard to whittle them back to this list, so these are the best of the best. We have films that home in very close to personal issues; films that draw attention to critical world issues; and films that opt to emphasise the humour or spectacle or music in their stories. It's an incredibly diverse array of work from a set of extremely talented filmmakers - the new as well as the known. To present celebrated experts in their field alongside less familiar names is precisely what we strive for throughout the Festival."

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