Edinburgh International Film Festival reveals 'beacon' vision as hunt begins for ‘entrepreneurial’ director
The leading producer leading the recovery of the Edinburgh International Film Festival has pledged to rebuild the event as a “champion of cutting-edge filmmaking” and a "beacon" for the global film industry.
Andrew Macdonald, whose credits include Sunshine on Leith, Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, has vowed to revive the festival with a "fresh new vision and direction" a year on from its sudden closure after the financial collapse of its operator.
A key aim is to “to build a diverse and unique festival and engage with audiences in a creative and effective way.”
The new vision for the revamped EIFF, which had been staged in June for more than a decade before the Covid pandemic, envisages the event reclaiming its place at the heart of Edinburgh’s festivals season in August.
Macdonald - who was appointed chair of the EIFF to recruit a board and staff to stage its 2024 edition and beyond earlier in July following a recovery effort led by the government agency Screen Scotland - has launched a worldwide hunt for a "dynamic entrepreneurial leader with a passion for film and the festival scene" to become its next director.
Macdonald has already brought Peter Rice, a former president of industry giants 20th Century Fox, into board, along with fellow producer Amy Jackson, whose credits include writer-director Charlotte Wells' multi award-winning feature Aftersun, which opened the EIFF in 2022.
Macdonald said: "The Edinburgh International Film Festival is one of the world's most illustrious film festivals, with a legacy of captivating audiences and filmmakers alike for over 75 years. Established in 1947, it is one of the world's longest-running film festivals, renowned for its commitment to celebrating the art of storytelling through the medium of film.
"Born out of the post-World War II era, with a vision to heal and unite through the universal language of cinema, the inaugural festival showcased a handful of documentaries. From these humble beginnings, it quickly grew into an international platform for filmmakers to share their stories with a global audience.
"Throughout its history, it has been a pioneer in various aspects of the film industry. It introduced the concept of the film retrospective, allowing audiences to revisit and appreciate the works of renowned directors. It also became one of the first festivals to champion short films, recognising their unique power to convey impactful narratives in a concise format.
"After the pandemic forced the temporary closure of the festival, we are extremely excited to revive it with a fresh new vision and direction.
"We are looking for a festival director to join us at this exciting time, to build and run the business and work with the board to deliver a multi-year plan to present the festival in August 2024 and beyond.
"With the energy and vigour of Edinburgh - the festival city - as our home, there is a great foundation to build an exciting, forward-thinking and vibrant festival that will once again champion the cutting edge of filmmaking and be a beacon for the industry.
"We’re looking for a dynamic, entrepreneurial leader with a passion for film and the festival scene, who can work with us to define and develop the festival."
The director job description says they will “lead and champion the voice of the EIFF by placing film, the filmmaker and audiences at the heart of everything they do” but will also have “a strong entrepreneurial spirit and ability to generate income.”
The recruitment pack states: "The newly-formed EIFF will build its programming around a strong cinephile vision of film culture and history, all hosted in a visitor-friendly city, providing an internationally appealing, beautiful and easily navigable home for the festival.
"There is a huge opportunity for EIFF to position its talent development, industry, education and events programmes at the heart of the wider Edinburgh festivals, including the Fringe, as well as a developing relationship with academia. The intersection of audiences, talent, industry and academia within a strong programming vision is critical to the future success of the industry and of the EIFF itself.
"The ideal candidate will be passionate and knowledgeable about film, a natural leader and a believer in the transformative power of film for individuals and communities.
“They will be an innovative thinker with the drive and ambition to promote the EIFF’s values, vision, aims and objectives. This person will ideally have prior experience of starting and running a business, be confident raising money, delivering a budget and multi-year plan and forming and managing staff to present a festival in August 2024."
Screen Scotland has been working with leading industry figures on a long-term EIFF revival plan since the Centre for the Moving Image, which also ran the Filmhouse cinemas in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, collapsed suddenly last October.
A scaled-back one-off edition of the EIFF was staged in August as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. Kate Taylor, who led the event as programme director, has already ruled herself out from applying to be its full-time director.
Andrew Macdonald, who was among those consulted on the festival’s future, was appointed the new EIFF chair after a recruitment drive launched in May by Screen Scotland with the aim of reviving it as “a must attend in the festival calendar.”
It said at the time: “The Edinburgh International Film Festival will aim to attract diverse and younger audiences due to its energy, programming and proximity to the Fringe."
Isabel Davis, Screen Scotland’s executive director, said: “That Andrew has agreed to be the chair of the new Edinburgh International Film Festival is a clear indication of the ambition we all share for the festival’s future.
“He was one of the first to offer support when the previous organisation collapsed and, with his customary vigour, Andrew has already been instrumental in bringing people together to build an exciting new vision for what the festival can become.”
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