Film Festival promises big changes as new producer is announced
A RADICAL overhaul has been ordered for the Edinburgh International Film Festival in its 65th year, which will see it shed its traditional format and shelve handing out awards for new movies.
Organisers have decided against appointing a new artistic director for the event, which will instead have a string of curators working alongside a new producer, James Mullighan.
Former artistic director Mark Cousins, who was at the helm of the event for two years in the mid-1990s, will be in charge of the "artistic and creative vision" for next year's festival, billed as a "one-off" celebration to mark its birthday.
He will work alongside actress Tilda Swinton, a patron of the festival, and another former director, Lynda Myles. The shake-up means Mr Mullighan, who is currently creative director of Shooting People, the world's largest network of independent film-makers, will not have overall creative charge of the programme.
A complete "reinvention" of the event is promised, including allowing guest curators to put together themed days, staging one-off events in unusual venues and letting audiences pay what they think an event has been worth.
New events will be programmed to celebrate the links between film and the likes of visual art, music and literature, while there will be campaigns to promote films to young people.
Major premieres and lavish post-screening parties will be scaled back dramatically due to funding problems - although it is hoped big-name film-makers and actors will still be lured to the city to preview new films and present special events.
Mr Cousins said next year's festival would be "changed beyond all recognition", and compared the way it would feel to London's hugely popular Meltdown music festival, which has had programmes curated by the likes of David Bowie, Morrissey, Patti Smith and Elvis Costello, and the Venice Biennale.
Although full details will not be revealed until the spring, Mr Cousins said: "The whole look and feel of the festival will be radically changed. Many of the things people are familiar with will not be there."
However, Mr Mullighan, a former arts journalist and music industry executive, based in London but originally from Australia, said he hoped to increase ticket sales by widening the appeal of the event, which moved from its traditional August slot to mid-June in 2008.
He told The Scotsman: "The move to June allows us to use a lot of unusual venues which simply weren't available in August. We want to use them the way the Fringe does."
The film festival has had a turbulent year, with the departure of artistic director Hannah McGill coming months after managing director Ginnie Atkinson stood down.
Chief executive Gavin Miller, who was appointed in early July, later revealed ticket sales had slumped 10 per cent during this year's event.
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