Edinburgh International Film Festival director's world premiere pledge as first line-up is revealed

EIFF will be working with Fringe venues under new vision for event

The new director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival has vowed to revive its fortunes with a focus on world premieres, unearthing future award winners, bringing in Fringe and becoming “more welcoming.”

Launching his first programme, Paul Ridd vowed to raise the profile of the event by launching its own new awards, showcasing “completely new” films, forging partnerships with Fringe venues and attracting more industry talent scouts to the event.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Although the main EIFF hub will be at the historic Cameo cinema, the EIFF will stage screenings and events at the nearby Central Hall in Tollcross, arts centre Summerhall, Edinburgh University’s Inspace building - which comedy club Monkey Barrel will help run - and one of Assembly’s Fringe venues, at 50 George Square.

EIFF 2024: Programme Launch Photos by Ingrid MurEIFF 2024: Programme Launch Photos by Ingrid Mur
EIFF 2024: Programme Launch Photos by Ingrid Mur
Read More
10 highlights of the film festival

Mr Ridd was appointed in November to lead the programming of the festival, which was plunged into crisis two years with the collapse of the arts charity behind the event.

He said the 77-year-old festival had effectively been “rebuilt from scratch”, but would have a programme where every film would be “properly looked after.”

Mr Ridd said every effort would be made to ensure that the event – which will screen many of its films at midnight – appealed to “non-film audiences” and did not feel “hermitically sealed.”

Sing Sing will premiere at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival.Sing Sing will premiere at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Sing Sing will premiere at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival.

He has also pledged to capitalise on its slot in the film industry calendar at the start of the countdown to the awards season, said the rebooted festival had already had “a real vote of confidence” from the industry with the response to a new prize for best feature film named after Sir Sean Connery, a long-time EIFF patron.

The Edinburgh-born actor, who passed away in 2021, will also be honoured with a gala screening of The Untouchables, the gangland thriller which won him an Oscar.

Special guests include Oscar-winning film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who will launch a new EIFF short film prize named after her, and controversial Argentinian filmmaker Gaspar Noé.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The festival will open on 15 August with the UK premiere of Nora Fingscheidt's adaptation of Orcadian writer Amy Liptrot’s best-selling memoir The Outrun, which sees Saoirse Ronan play a young woman returning to Orkney after slipping into drug and alcohol addiction in London.

Paul Ridd is in his first year as director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Picture: Elena LazicPaul Ridd is in his first year as director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Picture: Elena Lazic
Paul Ridd is in his first year as director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Picture: Elena Lazic

The event will close on 21 August with the world premiere of Since Yesterday, a new documentary made by Carla J Easton and Blair Young charting the history of Scotland’s “trailblazing girl bands” and the barriers they faced, from the 1960s to the present day.

The 10 films competing for the Sean Connery Prize include Sunlight, a road movie which comic Nina Conti has written, directed and stars in, To Kill a Wolf, Kelsey Taylor’s modern-day Oregon-set reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood, and Smiles and Kisses You, Bryan Carberry’s documentary exploring the relationship between a man and his life-size AI-animated doll.

Other programme highlights include the UK premiere of Alien: Romulus, the latest thriller in the long-running science fiction franchise, The Radleys, a dark comedy about a family of vampires, which will star Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald and Damian Lewis, The Substance, a new body horror with Demi Moore playing a facing Hollywood star, a new documentary by filmmaker Mark Cousins focusing on influential Scottish artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Black Dog, an acclaimed Chinese drama about the friendship between a recently-released convict and a stray whippet.

Mr Ridd was hired after a worldwide search for a director by a new EIFF board led by leading Scottish film producer Andrew Macdonald, with the aim of building a new event to “champion the cutting edge of filmmaking and be a beacon for the industry.”

Black Dog will be screened at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival.Black Dog will be screened at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Black Dog will be screened at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Mr Ridd said: “We opened up for submissions at the start of the year and received more than 2500 features and shorts.

"The fact we've now got a £50,000 feature film prize and a £15,000 short film prize, along with a platform at one of the world’s oldest film festivals, are real incentives. These prizes will be meaningful investments in the careers of the winning filmmakers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Our guiding principle is that we need to offer something new. That's vital. We've got quite a few UK and European premieres in the programme, but around half are world premieres.

"It’s important to give our audiences films that haven't been seen anywhere before, but it's also about how we entice people to take part in the festival, view and review films, and consider them for distribution. That's what's going to grow us and raise our profile.

“The industry response has been overwhelmingly positive. It's been great to get buy-in from producers, filmmakers and distributors for the festival. You have to really make a case for world premiering a film, because it's a big moment.

"We're not a massive festival, but we’ve got a very selective programme. Every single film is going to count and get its moment. Nothing is going to get lost or neglected. Everything is going to feel properly looked after.”

New Scottish music documentary Since Yesterday will close this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. Picture: Euan RobertsonNew Scottish music documentary Since Yesterday will close this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. Picture: Euan Robertson
New Scottish music documentary Since Yesterday will close this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. Picture: Euan Robertson

Mr Ridd said a key priority was forging new collaborations with the Fringe Society and key venues to ensure the EIFF feels more “integrated” into the wider festival landscape in August.

He added: “It's a difficult time to get films made and it's a very difficult time to get films seen.

"Bringing in audiences that would maybe never have seen those films, or even thought about those films, is a unique selling point for us.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Every single film will have a really compelling reason to be in our programme. If people take a risk, they’ll see something genuinely amazing and interesting.

"I think the festival will maybe feel a bit more welcome and inclusive for non-film audiences.

"We want to make it feel like it's not hermetically-sealed. It's not that the festival was elitist previously, but we want to make it feel like you want to take part in it and be part of it, and not be alienated by it.

“For people who have been before, I understand we have a great weight of responsibility to honour the festival’s history. But I hope we're doing something that feels different, new, vibrant and exciting, but also has a sustainable future and has the ability to grow.”

Related topics:

Comments

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.