Tilda Swinton spearheads reinvention of Edinburgh film fest

Posted by · 3:54 pm · December 23rd, 2010

I wrote at the end of my coverage of the Edinburgh Film Festival, back in June, that this year’s fest had come in for a fair bit of media flak, with many journos complaining (not entirely fairly, I thought) of a tepid film programme and minimal atmosphere. Few were surprised, then, when the fest’s artistic director Hannah McGill resigned from her post shortly afterward; speculation as to who might replace her has been coursing through the UK industry ever since.

As it turns out, the answer is nobody: under a radical new scheme for the festival drawn up by festival patron Tilda Swinton and former EIFF director Mark Cousins–the pair who previously set up their own mobile film festival in the Scottish Highlands– and newly appointed producer James Mullighan, the new-look festival will dispense with an artistic chief (as well as many of its usual parties and awards) and instead have films programmed by multiple guest/celebrity curators.

Clearly, a new tack is needed after this year’s festival saw a slump in ticket sales, while the government’s abolishment of the UK Film Council meant a harsh budget cut of £1.9 million over the next three years. But I hope the focus isn’t led too far from its current remit of new, fringe world cinema and rising British talent: this year’s EIFF, for example, was where I first encountered Gareth Edwards’s “Monsters.”

We know Swinton has  pretty eccentric bent, as well as demonstrable commitment to both challenging arthouse fare and slicker mainstream entertainments — the more she lets that eclecticism trickle into her job as festival patron, the better.

[Photo: Creative Loafing]

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5 responses so far

  • 1 12-23-2010 at 4:32 pm

    Kevin said...

    Lots of change afoot – hope the revitalised format turns out okay (although with Tilda Swinton as festival patron, how can you go wrong?)

    By the way, the Guardian article you link to mentions that the new producer is James Mullighan, not Robert Mullighan.

  • 2 12-23-2010 at 4:44 pm

    Michael said...

    And without your coverage of EIFF, I would also have been completely unaware of “Monsters” – since it received negligible amount of media coverage and barely any theatrical release (but was available to rent on iTunes which was how I eventually saw it) – and that has remained one of my favorite films of the year. I am hopeful that Tilda Swinton’s wild antics (more flashmobs please) and sophisticatedly bizzare taste in cinema causes for some exciting discoveries next year as well.

  • 3 12-23-2010 at 8:16 pm

    André said...

    happy christmas Kris, Guy, Chad, and whoever reads this!

    (X-mas Eve is bigger in Brazil than X-mas day, so sorry if I’m ahead of myself!)

  • 4 12-23-2010 at 11:20 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Oh, Tilda Swinton, is there anything you *can’t* do (besides make the Narnia films worthwhile)?

  • 5 12-24-2010 at 12:50 am

    Beau said...

    She deserves an Oscar every year simply for being.