Film festival director to fight for job as hunt starts for successor
THE director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival has vowed to fight to remain in charge despite revelations of a new recruitment drive to find someone to head up the event.
James Mullighan was hired to replace Hannah McGill at the helm of the event last December after her shock departure after three years as artistic director.
But Mr Mullighan was never given her title - being appointed first producer, then event director - and has now admitted his contract runs out within weeks.
His bosses at the Centre for the Moving Image, the festival's parent body, have also said they will start a new recruitment process next month for an artistic director, despite Mr Mullighan only starting work on the festival in February.
Mr Mullighan, who insisted he knew his appointment was temporary, said he would "definitely" be applying for the job and insisted he would be a strong candidate, despite concerns the event has lost its way this year.
He said: "I know there are people who have criticised me and said they don't think I'm qualified to do the job, but I certainly think I could be the artistic director and I'll definitely be applying. I'd love to do it."
Mr Mullighan had complained last week that he had not been given enough time to put together this year's programme, which has half as many film premieres as the 2010 event.
Critics had questioned the four-month delay in replacing Ms McGill, whose time in charge saw the event moved from its traditional August slot to mid-June. Ticket sales slumped 10 per cent in her last year and the festival has since lost a funding deal with the UK Film Council.
When Mr Mullighan was appointed he inherited a controversial template for a rethink of the event, masterminded by former director Mark Cousins, who was appointed a creative adviser to the event in October.
He stepped back from the festival earlier this year after confusion over what role he would have in the event, which saw a ban on red carpets to welcome guests, the scrapping of prizes and using just two cinemas.
Gavin Miller, chief executive of the CMI, was unavailable for comment. However, Leslie Hills, chair of its board, said: "James Mullighan is leading the festival's 65th birthday celebrations and we are delighted with the audience response. In July, as planned, we will begin the recruitment process for 2012."
Mr Mullighan, who had never publicly spoken of his short-term contract, told The Scotsman: "None of them was news to me. It was never made public, but I've always known that my contract ended in July.
"I didn't actually apply the first time round. They advertised for a new artistic director and didn't get anyone they wanted. I was approached by Gavin Miller about the job of producer and it was too good an opportunity to turn down, but I didn't actually start in the job until February."I'd love to do the job of artistic director, and ideally you'd get as much time as possible to prepare for the festival. I certainly think I'd be a strong candidate and obviously I have the experience of the event this year."
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