What a difference a year makes. Last year at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, there was much talk of a British section that was considered lightweight and lacking in quality. Inevitably, it was seen as a reflection on the whole industry.

This year, Morvern Callar, All Or Nothing, Heartlands and My Little Eye are just four of the titles that have underlined the diversity and daring of indigenous film-makers, and suddenly the creative state of the nation does not seem nearly so bleak.

Artistic director Shane Danielsen modestly claims it is a matter of good timing rather than good judgment that the British section at Edinburgh this year is so unusually strong, despite the last-minute loss of Tomorrow, La Scala! and the stricter Venice rules that denied Edinburgh a hoped-for world premiere of Peter Mullan's second feature, The Magdalene Sisters.

The best UK films at Edinburgh have shown some world-class talents at work, following their own instincts to focus on marginalised individuals, burning social issues and the way in which one defining moment can change an entire life.

In Lynne Ramsay's Morvern Callar, it is the suicide of her partner that enables Samantha Morton's character to escape her bleak existence in a small Scottish town and find a new life. In the bittersweet road movie Heartlands, Michael Sheen's Colin goes in search of his cheating wife, his pursuit turning into a voyage of self-discovery. In Mike Leigh's All Or Nothing, it takes a crisis to remind a struggling London family of the love that binds them together.

By contrast, Dominic Savage's Out Of Control is a potent reminder of British social-realist traditions as it focuses on the raw, improvised drama of a teenage boy's nightmare experiences in a young offenders' institute.

The British titles selected for Edinburgh depict ordinary lives in crisis and transition as film-makers grapple with the complexities of the way we live now. Whether that engagement with the present can translate into future box-office success - along the lines of previous Edinburgh premieres Billy Elliot (2000) and The Full Monty (1997) - remains the burning question.