Scottish director’s debut film will bring back memories of 90s’ package trips

Anyone who has fond memories of 90s’ package holidays will enjoy Aftersun, the first feature length film from Scottish director Charlotte Wells, which opened the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Friday.

The film follows the story of Calum, played by Normal People star Paul Mescal, and his daughter Sophie, played by newcomer Frankie Corio, on holiday in Turkey.

Celia Rowlson-Hall portrays an adult Sophie, who looks back at the holiday twenty years on.

Wells, who grew up in Edinburgh, said it was “surreal” to see a film she directed and wrote open the film festival, which returns to a fully in-person programme of events for the first time since 2019.

Charlotte Wells
Charlotte Wells, director of Aftersun (MUBA/PA)

“It’s a bit surreal and amazing,” she said. “It’s so special to bring it back to where it all began for me.

“To be able to share it with friends and family and all of the people who are responsible for getting where I am today is amazing.”

Mescal, who was in Edinburgh for the first time for a flying visit, says he is hoping to have a bit of a party before an early morning flight on Saturday, which affected his plans to take in the sights.

“Frankie’s been a bad host.” he joked. Corio hails from nearby Livingston in West Lothian.

Adopting a Scottish accent for the actor was so engrossing, he even spoke to Corio in it when they were not shooting.

The two actors developed a close bond on set.

Paul Mescal
Paul Mescal plays Calum in Aftersun (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“We just hung out for two weeks,” he said, “And Frankie finally learned to play pool.”

Both agreed the film will have cross-generational appeal.

Mescal said: “I think anyone who has ever had a relationship with a parent or been a child of someone will relate to it.

“I’m super proud of the film. As soon as I saw the script, I just fell in love with it.

The Covid-19 pandemic meant many of the festival events over the last two years took place virtually. Mescal said it was great that events are opening up again.

“I think it’s really important to bring theatre and art back into the public domain again and have people experience it in a room together – in a cinema with the lights off,” he said.

Corio said it was “very exciting” to see the film premiere in Scotland.

“It’s amazing,” she said, “I’m so happy I get to be here.

“Because it’s in Scotland it means that my whole family gets to be here.”