Edinburgh Film Festival brings back audience award

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ONE of the most coveted prizes at the Edinburgh International Film Festival is set to make a comeback - two years after being controversially scrapped.

The long-running audience award at the event had been one of the most sought-after prizes for film-makers before it was abandoned in the radical rethink of the festival in 2011.

The Full Monty, Buena Vista Social Club, Billy Elliot and Amelie were among the films which went on to enjoy huge success after wowing the festival crowds in Edinburgh. The last winner was Aaron Schneider’s Get Low in 2010.

However the festival has admitted that the audience award, sponsored for years by Standard Life until the company withdrew from the event, is still looking for a new backer.

The EIFF said it would solicit and publish comments from the public on eligible films on “online forums” to help decide this year’s winner.

The award is the latest change to be ordered by artistic director Chris Fujiwara, who restored a number of the festival’s other awards last June, including the Michael Powell Award for best British film, as well as bringing back red-carpet premieres.

Mr Fujiwara, who only had around six months to work on last year’s event, was later awarded a three-year contract after impressing the festival’s board, film industry figures and critics, who had slated the revamped event in 2011.

Meanwhile Mr Fujiwara has revealed that this year’s event will feature a major retrospective celebrating the work of the late French director Jean Gremillon, best known for his films in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Mr Fujiwara said: “Retrospectives can change people’s understanding of film history by shining the spotlight on artists who, for whatever reason, have been neglected and undervalued.”