Edinburgh International Film Festival diary: 14 August

Alistair Harkness talks to Romanian actor Fatma Mohamed about making avant-garde music from food in cult British director Peter Strickland’s new Flux Gourmet

Fatma Mohamed (centre) in Peter Strickland's Flux Gourmet
Fatma Mohamed (centre) in Peter Strickland's Flux Gourmet

I first discovered idiosyncratic British film-maker Peter Strickland when his debut film Katalin Varga played the EIFF back in 2009, but it was his second feature, the outré giallo horror riff Berberian Sound Studio, that really started winning him his cult following. That film had its world premiere at the Festival in 2012. One person in the audience that night was Fatma Mohamed. She’d had one scene in Katalin Varga, but Strickland had liked working with her so much he asked the Romanian actor if she could speak any other languages. She told him Italian, and he said his next film was about an Italian film production, so she became Berberian Sound Studio’s scream queen. Alas, she wasn’t high enough up the cast list to warrant an invite to the premiere, so she flew to London and jumped on a bus to Edinburgh. “I paid for my own ticket,” she smiles. “This time I’ve been invited.”

Indeed she has. By the time you read this she’ll be in Edinburgh for the UK premiere of Strickland’s Flux Gourmet, a twisted tale of music, food and creative tension. Mohamed plays Elle di Elle, the uncompromising leader of a band of “sonic caterers" — performance artists who make avant-garde music from food. The film marks her fifth collaboration with Strickland. “We feed each other,” she says of their partnership, which also includes The Duke of Burgundy and In Fabric. Even by those weirdo standards, though, she reckons Flux Gourmet is out there. “Especially the bits with the faecal material,” she laughs. She’s referring to a scene where her character smears herself in chocolate mousse and pretends it’s human excrement. “I was like, ‘Peter, what are you doing with me?’ But it’s strange. For an actor, the more bizarre a situation, the more attractive it is for us.”

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Flux Gourmet screens at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 14 and 15 August. For more information and tickets, visit www.edfilmfest.org.uk