It’s landed. For the general public, the Edinburgh International Film Festival starts tomorrow, but the city is already swarming with journalists, industry professionals, filmmakers and commentators. I’ve spent much of the day frantically marking dates in my diary so I can cover as much as possible here at Central Station, and the screenings have begun.

@filmstalker Quick update for #eiff #edfilmfest The Last Rites of Ransom Pride was horrendous and shoulld be avoided for sanity. June 15, ~2pm

@jdanielp looks forward to The Illusionist tomorrow night to launch the 64th #edfilmfest assuming his flatmate resolves the undelivered tickets issue! June 15, ~ 9:30am

Meanwhile, round the corner from the Filmhouse and the Cameo cinemas, the Edinburgh College of Art is having its degree show (which EIFF attendees might want to check out; the animation department, for example, has some excellent short films this year). The city is bustling with creativity, and amongst the storytellers, cinematographers, actors, writers and artists, I, for one, feel like an interloper.

Son of Babylon is a co-production between Iraq, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Palestine. Although overtly about Ahmed, a young boy searching for his missing father just after the fall of Saddam Hussein, as you might imagine from a story with this kind of cross-border production background, it has a lot more to say about people, tolerance and adversity.

Just as the plant life the camera lingers on manages to thrive in the bleakness of the Iraqi desert, Ahmed, his grandmother, and the characters they encounter never lose their fire, despite their challenges and the weight of the tragedy around them. What’s more, the film undoes two decades of soundbite news footage and ham-fisted caricature in emphasising how paper-thin the line between the war-torn society on-screen and the affluent one in the audience really is. Squint a bit and Baghdad’s architecture and roads could be London, or any western city; certainly Ahmed has the energy and cheek of twelve year old boys everywhere.

@benwerd Son of Babylon: cinema at its best, tearing us into an apparently different context & showing us how alike we are. @CenSta #edfilmfest June 15, ~4:30pm

Although occasionally heavy-handed – Ahmed greets US soldiers with a hearty “hello America!”, while black smoke plumes above them and gunfire echoes in the distance – Son of Babylon is inspiring, challenging, and is one of those films that keeps you thinking well after the credits have rolled. Unfortunately, it’s perhaps not one that will receive wide distribution outside of the Festival, so it’s worth seeking out while it’s here.