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Edinburgh Film Festival 2009

Posted by: Matthew Turner 26/06/2009 @ 12:19
Subject: Film

Edinburgh Film Festival 2009: The Story So Far
Well, another Edinburgh Film Festival is drawing to a close and, frankly, I'm a little bit disappointed with myself, because so far I've only seen 33 films. I've had several days where I've only seen two films per day and this is practically unheard of. To put this in context, my proudest (or saddest, depending on who you ask) achievement to date was watching 60 films in 11 days in tribute for the EIFF's 60th anniversary, three years ago. My excuses are that a) I'm getting old and can't take the drinking-till-3, up-at-8-for-first-screening lifestyle the way I used to be able to, and b) I've been doing more interviews than ever before this year and have had to miss several screenings as a result.

Upcoming interviews to look out for include: Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna for Rudo and Cursi; Brian Geraghty for both The Hurt Locker and Easier With Practice; French director Remi Bezancon for his magnificent The First Day of the Rest of Your Life (officially my favourite interview of the festival, largely because it was outside on what turned out to be Edinburgh's hottest day EVER, but also because we had a translator, which means less transcribing); Jesse Eisenberg for Adventureland; EastEnders star Nitin Ganatra (aka Mas Masood) and Andrea Riseborough for Mad, Sad & Bad; and Brenda Blethyn and Pauline McLynn for The Calling. Of course, nothing tops my Olga Kurylenko interview from 2006, but no one could be that lucky twice. Also, there are still three whole days to go so I may well squeeze a couple more in before the end. As for the movie total, I'll be happy if I make it to 42.

The Best of the Fest
Traditionally, the final Sunday of the EIFF is set aside for The Best of the Fest, where the public get a second chance to see some of the films that were either sold out on the day or generally considered the best of the festival (or both). Obviously, you also have to factor in print availability and permissions from filmmakers etc., but either way it's usually a strong line-up and they also throw in a buy three tickets, get one free deal. I've only seen eight of the nineteen films in the Best of the Fest this year so I might try and squeeze a couple in myself, but of the eight I've seen, I highly recommend, in order, Fish Tank (easily my favourite film of the festival), Mary and Max (easily the second best film of the festival), The First Day of the Rest of Your Life (five stars), Moon and Shane Meadows' /films/shane-meadows-film-director-518.html Le Donk. Also, if you're deciding based on whether or not a film will receive a theatrical release later in the year then you MUST see Mary and Max, as no one's picked it up yet.

And the surprise is...there's no surprise. Surprise!
Regular Edinburgh Film Festival goers will have noticed that one annual fixture is notable by its absence - for whatever reason, there's no surprise film this year. I've yet to hear an official explanation, but people I've asked have said things like “It was just too much hassle” and “More trouble than it's worth”. It's fair to say that in the nine years I've been coming to the EIFF, the Surprise Film has ranged from the sublime (Spirited Away) to the merely okay (last year's The Rocker) to the downright inexplicable (2007's The Kingdom). I've also yet to discover whether it's gone for good or whether this year is merely a blip and it'll be back next year. If the former, I shall miss the annual excitement as the lights go down and I try to work out from the studio logo whether or not I've already seen it. (I hadn't seen either The Kingdom or The Rocker, so that worked out quite well those years). Anyway, I'll try and get a concrete answer before the end of the festival – watch this space...

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