Among the creative industries, the coronavirus pandemic has had a particularly big impact on movies and theatre, with cinemas and stages closed – and filming halted mid-production. For Scottish rising star Marli Siu, whose big screen debut was in cult horror musical Anna and the Apocalypse, there’s been an effect on multiple music-heavy projects.
Firstly, her indie film Run opened in March during growing uncertainty, lasting just five days before lockdown scuppered attendance (it’s out on digital this week). Inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen and starring Game of Thrones’ Mark Stanley, the thrifty 76-minute drama follows an existentially frustrated father in the Scottish town of Fraserburgh, who swipes his son’s car for a late night drag race.
Later this year, Siu will also feature in Our Ladies, the long-awaited adaptation of Alan Warner’s beloved 1998 novel The Sopranos (no mafia connection), which had its planned multiplex release in April pushed back to September. The Derry Girls-ish film follows five riotous teenagers from the Highlands running wild in mid-’90s Edinburgh for an afternoon of debauchery. But before that, you’ll see her on the small screen in Prime Video’s new series Alex Rider, based on Anthony Horowitz’s bestselling spy novels and also starring national treasure Vicky McClure.
Basically, Marli’s got a lot going for her right now. So, we dropped her a line to find out why she’s suddenly such a big deal…
Full interview for NME
By all accounts, Anna And The Apocalypse would appear to be the world’s first feature-length zombie comedy musical set in high school… and at Christmas… in Scotland. Shot around the likes of Port Glasgow, Greenock and Falkirk, the film premiered to considerable buzz at last year’s Fantastic Fest in the US and is now making its way into cinemas nationwide to unleash some festive fear…
Full interview for SciFiNow
This is an extract from a bigger print-exclusive Anna and the Apocalypse feature in SciFiNow #152
Before launching its full programme, the 72nd Edinburgh International Film Festival announced the films in the lineup with notable Scottish connections. It’s standard practice for this festival, presumably tied to obligations to sponsors such as Creative Scotland, to give the slate of local productions a profile-boost before breaking out the international big guns.
Of late, this tease has proved more foreboding than enticing. With a few exceptions (such as Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio), the quality of British features receiving their world premiere at the festival in recent years has been especially patchy, and a number of the particularly dire ones have, in my experience, been those with a local connection. Romantic comedy Scottish Mussel (2015) may still be the worst feature I’ve seen at any film festival.
This year’s Scots-focused preview looked more promising, however, both for the world premieres as well as titles accruing buzz from festivals abroad. Despite the odd dud, the quality, variety and, in some cases, ambition of the features under the broad banner of Scottish filmmaking proved reflective of the state of this year’s programme as a whole…
Full feature for Sight & Sound
The pool of Scottish film musicals is small but notable – there’s Sunshine on Leith, a jukebox musical of The Proclaimers’ hits; Stuart Murdoch’s God Help the Girl; and culturally insensitive Gene Kelly vehicle Brigadoon. They can step aside for the new baby in the family, and this one’s got some bite. Anna and the Apocalypse is (probably) the world’s first Christmas-set high-school zombie comedy musical. Less Brigadoon, more Brigadoom…
Full review for SciFiNow
Now in its 72nd instalment, the Edinburgh International Film Festival is the world’s longest continuously-running film festival. This year’s edition opens with the UK premiere of Marc Turtletaub’s jigsaw drama Puzzle, starring Kelly Macdonald and Irrfan Khan. The festival later closes with the UK premiere of Swimming with Men, a British comedy from director Oliver Parker, starring Rob Brydon, Jim Carter, Daniel Mays and Adeel Akhtar.
Beyond the galas, there are many premieres, discoveries and retrospectives of note. Here are 10 highlights from the big programme, with the festival running from 20 June to 1 July…
Full feature for the BFI