The film, Wells’ feature debut after several acclaimed shorts, debuted at Cannes’ Critics’ Week strand to rave reviews and won the French Touch jury prize. It stars “Normal People” actor Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio as a young father and his 11-year-old daughter who are on holiday at a resort in Turkey in the late 1990s. Framed as a look back at a father-daughter holiday in the late 1990s, with occasional mini DV footage adding to the period texture, the film is an ode to nostalgia with hints of something far darker.
Variety critic Guy Lodge said of “Aftersun”: “Ambitiously and poignantly, ‘Aftersun’ explores the oddly intimate chasm between parent and child, the latter forever playing catch-up to the former’s inner life, except on the brief occasions — like, say, a summer vacation — when they can both be children for a moment.”
In an interview with Variety, Wells said: “I wanted to explore a different period in that relationship, like a young father and his daughter on holiday. Even just visually having a young parent, like a young man and his daughter, it just felt like it could be something interesting and fun and compelling.”
A24 snapped up North American rights for the film at Cannes. Charades is selling the project globally.
Wells said: “As a teenager, I spent just about all the money I had saved each summer on tickets to EIFF, sitting on the floor at Fountainbridge in hour long queues for box office opening, leafing through the weighty program which offered my first exposure to independent and international cinema. In 2006, I bought tickets to the Duplass brothers’ ‘The Puffy Chair’ based on its inch-square picture and synopsis. The Q&A that followed made clear how explicit the connection between filmmakers and their work could be; what personal filmmaking could be. In 2006, I attended the opening night film: ‘The Flying Scotsman.’ In 2022, I’ll attend again. Edinburgh is home and so is the EIFF. I can’t wait.”
EIFF creative director Kristy Matheson added: “It means so much to have ‘Aftersun’ open our festival and celebrate a homegrown talent whose artistry is entirely international in its scope and appreciation. My heartfelt thanks to Charlotte and the whole ‘Aftersun’ team for sharing their film with us. After wowing Cannes Film Festival audiences and critics alike, I can’t wait for EIFF audiences to experience the journey that Charlotte and her incredible cast take us on together.”
“Aftersun” is produced by Adele Romanski, Barry Jenkins and Mark Ceryak for Pastel and Amy Jackson for Unified Theory. It was financed by BBC Film, BFI and Screen Scotland, in association with Tango.
Kogonada’s “After Yang,” which tells the story of a family who lose their A.I helper, and the profound feelings that the experience induces, will close the festival. The film, which debuted at Cannes 2021 and won an award at Sundance earlier this year, stars Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith.
The festival takes place Aug. 12-20.