THE producer of The Illusionist, the acclaimed animated film set in Edinburgh, has been appointed chair of the capital’s film festival.
Bob Last will replace film-maker Leslie Hills as figurehead of the Centre for the Moving Image, which runs both the festival and the city’s Filmhouse cinema.
He has taken the helm just months after new artistic director Chris Fujiwara oversaw his first festival. The Japanese-American writer and critic has since been awarded a new three-year contract to programme the event, which dates back to 1947.
Hills, director of Edinburgh-based Skyline Productions, has been at the helm for just over two years during a tumultuous period for the festival when it lost a number of senior staff and suffered a dramatic collapse at the box office in 2011.
The event’s artistic director, Hannah McGill resigned just months after the appointment of Leslie Hills and the following year saw a controversial rethink of the event oversee by former director Mark Cousins and Australian journalist James Mullighan.
The Illusionist, which Last made with French animator Sylvain Chomet, was Hannah McGill’s last opening gala and it went on to win an Oscar nomination. By coincidence, Chomet, who was previously nominated for an Oscar for Belleville Rendezvous, is in Edinburgh this week to receive an honorary degree from Edinburgh University.
Last, whose other films include House of Mirth, which saw Hollywood star Gillian Anderson lured to Glasgow, is also working on the big-screen adaptation of Sunset Song with director Terence Davies.
Last, who is based in Dundee, said: “I am excited and honoured to take on this role.
“The Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Filmhouse have seeded and sustained a lifelong delight in film ever since my teenage outings in the 1970s.
The Centre for the Moving Image and the festival in particular have had a challenging few years and I am grateful to the outgoing chair, Leslie Hills, for navigating the organisation back on track, under the artistic direction of Chris Fujiwara at the film festival and Rod White at the Filmhouse.
“I look forward to doing everything I can to help the whole CMI team in their quest to see Filmhouse build its role in the life of our city and the film festival build its international significance, continuing to facilitate discovery of cinema’s rich culture and inspire the next generation of film makers and audiences.”
Brandon Malone, who chaired the appointment panel, said: “We are delighted that Bob has agreed to be the new chair.
“He brings with him a hugely impressive track record in film and creative production, as well as a clear passion in seeing the film festival and the Filmhouse thrive in the future.”