Jonathan Melville: Red carpet shrinks as low budget films rise

Chris Fujiwara. Picture: Neil Hanna
Chris Fujiwara. Picture: Neil Hanna
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IT may have opened and closed with films which generated mixed responses from critics and cinema-goers, but the 67th Edinburgh International Film Festival contained a number of titles which were worth talking about.

Breathe In and Not Another Happy Ending saw the festival in and out respectively, but neither were the EIFF’s finest moments in 2013, with the former a predictable bore and the latter pretty but vacant.

Recent years have seen the number of high profile EIFF films falling away in favour of low budget titles, meaning fewer celebrities on the red carpet and more chances being taken by punters on the still bulging programme.

Taking a chance is something most film festivals recommend their customers do as much as possible, and with the EIFF it’s hard not to. There may have been Jurassic Park 3D and Monsters University but the more populist titles were few and far between.

Instead, documentaries such as Fire in the Night, Battle of the Sexes, Desert Runners and Wikileaks: We Steal Secrets generated much interest and won some of the top awards.

Scripted features such as Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha topped many critics’ polls, though I found it painfully contrived and too quirky for its own good.

Scottish dramas, For Those in Peril and Blackbird, also generated interest, hopefully pointing to the emergance of some exciting new voices.

The EIFF’s artistic director, Chris Fujiwara has warned that without more funding the festival can’t attract bigger names.

With bigger names and films they can sell more tickets and encourage a few punters into other, smaller, films. The EIFF has a lot of life left in it, it just needs a bit of help to bring the best films from around the globe to the city in 2014 and beyond.

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