Trevor Johnston looks forward to the 46th Edinburgh International Film Festival.
‘lfit’s just about showing films. the regional film theatres can do that. To me the Edinburgh International Film Festival should be about moviemakers coming here and being challenged by both the audience and their peers. I want Edinburgh to be a festival that‘s much more in touch with the industry it seeks to represent.‘ Forthright words indeed from Penny Thomson, newly installed as the ElFF‘s first full-time director, as she approaches this year's event. a record 46th annual programme ofthe best in global cinema which opens with a gala showing of Baz Luhrmann‘s eagerly awaited Strictly Ballroom on Saturday evening.
Retaining the structure of themed screening strands introduced by her predecessor David Robinson. 1992‘s line-up includes a strong selection of American independent offerings
outward appearances this year‘s operation seems a leaner and fitter affair. ‘Last year. with five screens showing from noon to midnight. you weren't just splitting the available audience. you were tearing it apart.‘ reﬂects the former independent producer. ’so by just concentrating on the two screens at Filmhouse, we hope to offer a genuine choice for our viewers but cut down on the worrying number of titles which had been playing to very small houses. It’s the best ofboth worlds. really.‘ With the European Script Fund-sponsored Emeric Pressburger Award for Best European Screenplay. the Michael Powell Award for the Best British Feature. the Charles Chaplin New Director‘s Award. the Channel Four Young Film Maker ofthe Year Award for student entries and the Post Office McLaren Award for animation all up for grabs. it almost seems like everyone will go home with something under their arm. but Thomson defends the presence 0st many variably prestigious trOphies. ‘lt gives a focus to the event.‘ she enthuses. ‘and as a filmmaker
(among them Tim Robbins‘s Bob Roberts and John Turturro‘s Mac). a survey of New British Cinema (featuring Nic Roeg‘s Cold Heaven and Ian Sellar‘s Prague). a Panorama section boasting Leos Carax‘s staggering Les Amants du Pont-Neuf. as well as separate seasons devoted to animation. children‘s films. late night specials and work from film schools all over the world. Major retrospectives include a focus on the work of idiosyncratic German director Hans Jurgen Syberberg. a visit from Scots screenwriter Alan Sharp and an audience with Hollywood legend Sam Fuller. The fortnight comes to a fitting close with James Foley‘s ~brilliant film version of David Mamet‘s Glengarry Glen Ross.
showcasing marvellous myself. there's nothing better than performances by Al Pacino and Jack being told that a bunch of people Lemmon. have watched your movie and they
think it‘s great. I once received an envelope at a festival which had written on the back “whatever you do. don‘t open this because there‘s nothing inside“. but it was still a wonderful feeling.‘
Previously in charge of helping the Scottish Film Production Fund‘s modest resources go a long way. Thomson was chosen for the ElFF job partly because of her administrative expertise and to all
‘What had seemed far fetched now appeared perfectly reasonable; it just moved from being wildly implausible to being perfectly straightforward,‘ reflects screenwriter Alan Sharp on the decade or so that took him from aspiring Greenoclt-based novelist to a hard-won status as one of the American film industry’s most respected scribes. ‘11 you could write scripts and they would buy them, then you could live there and work there,’ says the 58-year-old Scots export, due to be honoured with a mini-retrospective at this year’s ElFF.
Working in British television drama at the end of the 60s, Sharp began ‘speculatively and for my own interest to write screenplays directed towards the American market, Westerns mainly and a kind of gangster thriller,’ which paid off in 1971 when Peter Fonda filmed The Hired Hand and Sharp was summoned to Hollywood to work on the script. He followed this success with
Ulzana's Raid, written by Alan Sharp
two more Westerns (‘I got in just before they withdrew the subscription’) in Ulzana’s Raid for Robert Aldrich and Billy Two Hats for Ted Kotcheff, and Arthur Penn’s mesmeric 1975 contemporary thriller Night Moves - all of which are set for ElFF screenings. But then, as Sharp describes it, ‘the latter part of the 70s came along and the accountancy aspect of filmmaklng perceived that I could write OK but my
films never made anyone any money.’ How resident in New Zealand and writing regularly for US TV, Sharp's scheduled masterclass (Thursday 20 at 12.45pm) and his industry initiative session (Friday 21 at 4.30pm) should offer wry wit and experienced insight galore forthe self-styled “professional hack writer’. (Trevor Johnston) For times of film screenings, see Film Festival listings.
I Rumour has it that Scots comedian and sometime folk musician Billy Connolly may be in town for the premiere screening of Edinburgh-made documentary Acoustic Routes at 2.15pm on Monday 17. Connolly presents the film. which follows legendary guitarist Bert Jansch on a journey to the heart of American blues and contains performances from Brownie McGee. Ralph McTell. Albert Lee and others.
I Dust down those tartan ﬂares. because it looks like the new line-up of the Bay City Rollers could be playing a set after the screening of German documentary Inside My Head I'm Not The One You See at 6pm on Thursday 20. The film. a mixture of interviews with fans and band members. examines the lingering effect of Rollermania.
I When Scots-born animator Norman McLaren made a colour animated film called Love On The Wing to promote the air mail service way back in 1939. the GPO promptly decided to ban it on the grounds it was ‘obscene‘. Some fifty years on. however. McLaren's reputation as an animation pioneer is assured and The Post Office have decided to sponsor an award in his name for best new British animated film for the third year running. The Post Office McLaren Award fills four lunchtime slots throughout the Film Festival. and one of MeLaren‘s own works — 1952‘s Neighbours — is featured as part ofthe National Film Board of Canada Retrospective at 6.15pm on Sunday 16.
I Forthe first time ever. the Film Festival gets underway with a special family gala. a screening ofJozsef Gemes‘s wonderful animated film The Princess and the Goblin. An army ofevil goblins plan to take over the kingdom and marry offthe beautiful Princess lrene to the despicable Prince Froglip (a manically spluttering voice characterisation by Rik Mayall). Full marks to ElFF programmers for supplying a series of new. internationally acclaimed films for a younger audience in matinee slots throughout the festival at the more than reasonable price of£3 (£1.50). The Princess and the Goblin screens at 2. 15pm on Saturday 15 and 2pm
on Sunday 23. J
The List 14 -- 20 August 1992 61