Edinburgh Int’l Film Festival 2013: Roland Hassel

Retired detective Roland Hassel (Lars-Erik Berenett) makes a phone call from a convenience store to enquire about the $8 million reward that is still offered for solving the 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. With quiet resolve and deadpan certainty, Hassel points out to the poor bureaucrat on the other end of the line that “according to the consumer price index, it should be $13 million by now”. Unsurprisingly, our protagonist is fobbed off, his purpose petering out. Dogged from the off, he continues on his way, having been tasked with investigating the few concrete details pertaining to that fateful evening.

Edinburgh Int’l Film Festival 2013: The Colour of the Chameleon

Taking on chameleonic qualities, The Colour of the Chameleon (Tsvetat na Hameleona) is a smart entry into the espionage thriller while also being something of a semi-satiric deconstruction of the genre as well as of the political corruption that pervades the post-Soviet territories. Its attention to detail and penchant for cumulative impact demand patience; like belatedly cunning protagonist Batko Stamenov (Ruscen Vidinliev), the film keeps its wider points half-hidden under a deceptively light touch. Slickly made, in aesthetic terms it doesn’t immediately strike one as particularly invested in history or in real life.

Edinburgh Int’l Film Festival 2013: Lunarcy!

Titular puns and punctuation marks included, Lunarcy! establishes a kind of informal register before it’s even begun. Opening with the quotation, “You don’t have to be tall to see the moon”, it makes a virtue of smalltown idiosyncrasies and is celebratory of an outsider status (fittingly, it’s a Canadian production) by lending a cinematic platform to a few people whose fascination with our Moon goes well beyond expectation, and whose grand designs doggedly and amusingly belie the utter impracticability of their vision.

Edinburgh Int’l Film Festival 2013: From Tehran to London

At the present crossroads, the conditions under which Iran’s national cinema is being made (or not being made, as is often the case) are as worthy of analysis as the films themselves. Precisely because Iranian filmmakers are currently under threat of artistic censorship and/or legal restriction (such as house arrest or even a prison sentence), however, their output has enjoyed an unquestioned critical status, as if an artist working within and against such suppression is by default a genius. As Jafar Panahi’s This Is Not a Film demonstrated last year, though, courage is not equable to insight. Condemnation of a political regime does not therefore preclude criticism of the art conditioned by it; for too long now, Iran’s more internationally celebrated filmmakers have, for numerous reasons, misplaced their focus and/or shirked the grander questions facing them.