Film

EIFF highlights: From naked New Zealanders to Korean car chases

Picks from the Edinburgh International Film Festival, chosen by aspiring film critics taking part in EIFF’s Young Critics programme

Naked hitchhikers in Nude Tuesday

Damon Herriman and Jackie van Beek get close to nature in Nude Tuesday Photo: Kerry Brown

This August, five lucky aspiring film critics arrived in Edinburgh from all corners of the UK to attend the Edinburgh International Film Festival’s Young Critics programme, a week-long mentoring initiative that blends a series of workshops with mentoring sessions from some of the biggest names in film criticism. The lucky cohort got to watch a wide selection of films during the festival and have handpicked some of their highlights for The Big Issue: 

NUDE TUESDAY, by Kit Bithell

It’s Nûde Tuęsdäy! Time to get your kit off and wander through the mountains of Zǿbftąņ. Or at least it is for stiff middle-class couple, Laura (Jackie van Beek) and Bruno (Damon Herriman), who attempt to save their failing marriage by attending a new-age sex retreat where everyone speaks in a Scandi-inspired gibberish language delightfully translated through clever use of subtitles.

Although sex is at the forefront of the film – with plenty of orgies, bizarre licking and thrush to be had – nudity is sparse in Nude Tuesday until we reach the titular Nûde Tuęsdäy, where bodies gloriously wobble through the New Zealand landscape in normalisation of nakedness. Although the premise may seem a little gimmicky, the performances and the inventive use of subtitling still offer hearty giggles and insightful reflections long after this admittedly intriguing concept loses its novelty.

LOLA, by Fran Haymonds

What if you could listen to the future on demand? This is a question with no easy answers for two sisters and their makeshift time machine, lovingly named LOLA. Though shot in the style of a found-footage documentary, Andrew Legge’s black and white debut set in World War II is more than a clever conceit. With a tiny budget and a short runtime, the counterfactual becomes its own reality through a combination of well-timed needle drops, doctored archival footage and good old-fashioned sleight of hand.

Building on the promise of his short films, Legge’s poignant speculative approach to history and its tinkering with genre allows not only for alternative histories to emerge (i.e. what if Britain had lost the war and Bowie were never born?) but also asks vital questions about the making – and unmaking – of history itself.

Special Delivery, by Rachel Jones

Special Delivery
Special Delivery Photo: Signature Entertainment

Park So-dam is Eun-ha, an employee at a car junkyard in Busan who moonlights as a professional getaway driver. Driving fugitives through the dazzling streets of Seoul in a beat-up car, the young woman embodies the solitary antihero seen in similarly car-centred films such as Drive (2011) and Baby Driver (2017). After becoming embroiled in a gambling scam, the criminal earns herself a stalker in the shape of Seo-won, a corrupt police officer. 

As the chase unfolds, an unexpected friendship between Eun-ha and Seo-won turns the film into something with more chills and fewer thrills. Between the dangerous driving and fighting sequences, the driver is confronted with memories of her childhood and takes on the role of a reluctant parent. With a pulsating electric score and glaring visuals, the result is a gripping action thriller with an unexpectedly touching message about family.

The Score, by Lara Callaghan

The Score
Naomi Ackie and Will Poulter in The Score Photo: Rob Baker Ashton

Malachi Smyth’s debut The Score is ambitiously genre-bending: at once a heist thriller, a dark comedy and a folk musical. The film follows Will Poulter’s hapless Troy caught between the criminal underworld of his cruel boss (Johnny Flynn) and the mysterious allure of Naomi Ackie’s Gloria. The Score is set nearly exclusively in Gloria’s dreary café, a bold choice that ultimately proves fruitless.


As a heist thriller, stakes are placed too late in the game and, as a comedy, jokes fail to land because tension is built unevenly. As a musical, the use of Flynn’s songbook will add appeal to those familiar with his work, however, the inclusion of American-inspired folk music within a film set around the south of England feels oddly out of place. The Score’s failure to hit its high notes may be an inside job but it shows promise for a daring creative.

My Small Land, by Wessley Edmonds

My Small Land
Lina Arashi as Sarya in My Small Land Photo: supplied

Red handprints on a border sign, the watering of an olive tree, the slurping of ramen noodles intertwined with laughter. Emma Kawawada’s directorial debut My Small Land thrives on the small things that give life purpose when it seems like there are none. In a time where you come from doesn’t always align with who you are, this film illustrates stories of Kurdish immigrants in Japan who continue to be displaced by the nationality they’ve chosen to adopt. 

A tear-jerking coming-of-age story about a young Kurdish refugee caught between country and identity, this film dwells on those who see home as more than just a place but as something that comes from within and around. Law, sacrifice, and empathy seem to bounce off each other as identities are questioned, borders are crossed, and growing up is paired with visas that read ‘safe but restricted’. It plays as a small miracle. 

Thanks to Rafa Sales Ross

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member.You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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