r E 3 ft v A I.
I The Iinal weekend of this year’s film festival boasts some pretty big movies, but the question is, how many of the stars will show up? A whole host of people will be about for Wuthering Heights, including director Peter Kosminsky, actress Janet McTeer and, possibly, actor Ralph Fiennes. Nicholas Roeg’s attendance at Cold Heaven looks less likely, but director James Foley will be in for Glengarry Glen Ross. Fingers are crossed for a surprise visit en route to the Venice Film Festival by either of the film’s stars, Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon.
I Freudian slip of the week came from EIFF director Penny Thomson. Introducing Hans J iirgen Syberberg — whose retrospective included the seven-hour Hitler— to a masterclass audience, she happily announced the German director would be ‘interrogated’ by journalist Julian Peﬂey.
I Although the EIFF'S own prestigious awards will not be announced until the ceremony that preceeds the closing gala on Sunday 30, at least one bunch of British filmmakers will be partying early. Wild West, the story of three brothers who form an Asian country and western band, won the film section of the first week‘s Scotland on Sunday Critics’ Awards. The film was also a hit with the public, encouraging the film festival to arrange a second screening after its first sell-out performance.
I Talking of the awards it’s time for The List to stick its neck out and make a few predictions. You, Me and Marley, Richard Spence’s stunning film about a group of young joyriders in West Belfast, is a good bet for the International Critics’ Prize and also the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature, where its closest competition may well be the aforementioned Wild West or even Ian Sellar’s atmospheric Prague. Although it would be good to see the Chaplin Award for Best New Director go to someone from these isles, the American contenders are so strong that it wouldn’t be surprising to see John Turturro’s Mac repeat its Cannes success. That said, my money is split on Tom Kalin’s S woon and Allison Ander’s Gas Food Lodging. If I’m right, there will be a full report in the next issue. But then again, I was completely wrong about the Oscars . . . (Alan Morrison)
Trevor Johnston and Alan Morrison weigh the highs and lows of the 1992 Edinburgh International Film Festival.
This year things got off to an unexpected start in more ways than one. An embarrassing projection box foul-up at the first night gala ensured that the Rank gong reverberated around the Odeon cinema several moments after the man with the stick had struck home, yet even before the lights had been lowered, event chairman Murray Grigor launched a controversial attack on ‘our London colleagues’ for treating the Edinburgh affair as a ‘provincial ﬁlm festival’. His words certainly seemed merited in the light of the British Film Institute’s imminent withdrawal of their £22,000 grant from an already impoverished EIFF purse, though in the ﬁnal analysis it was left to the 1992 programme, Penny Thomson’s ﬁrst year in charge as full-time director, to speak up for itself.
One of the perils of the job, however, is that in a weak year for movies, it’s always the festival head-honcho types who carry the can if the critics are disappointed by the ﬁlmic fare on offer. With the exception of the powerful and ecstatically received Belfast joyriding chronicle You, Me & Marley, television dominance made for a rather lacklustre New British Cinema strand. Elsewhere, Jean-Claude Lauzon’s striking Leolo and Istvan Szabo’s deceptively touching Sweet Emma, Dear Bobe stood out from a distinctly undemourished-looking Panorama section.
With its emphasis on tough, challenging work from ﬁrst-timers like Tom Kalin, Quentin Tarrantino and Tim Robbins, the non-mainstream American State of Independents strand, on the other hand, saw Edinburgh’s longstanding strength in this exciting area continuing to ﬂourish. It probably represented the best of the 1992 fortnight, though Baz Luhrmann’s
ovation-garnering opener Strictly Ballroom, the trenchant Canadian-made Israeli documentary Deadly Currents and Leos Carax‘s staggering Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf were further high spots. There’s still a formidable closing weekend to come. Three world premieres include septuagenarian Scot Margaret Tait’s Blue Black Permanent, the latest version of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and a bona fide coup in J ames Foley’s searing adaptation of David Mamet’s real estate sales saga Glengarry Glen Ross.
On the debit side, distributors keen to take advantage of on-tap press coverage may have teased director Penny Thomson with a star name carrot in order to secure screenings for inferior commercial movies soon to be seen in multiplexes anyway. Christopher Lambert and tacky serial-killer piece, Knight Moves, were the worst offenders in this
Scenes from the 1992 Edinburgh International
Film Festival. Clockwise from top left: Billy Connolly and BertJansch (Acoustic Routes), The Bay City Rollers (Inside My Head. . .), Tara Morice, Craig Pearce and a piper (Strictly Ballroom) and James Wilby (Immaculate Conception). Photographs by Alistair Miller.
camp, but you also had to wonder what the ever-slimy Michael Winner was doing in town giving a typically self-serving lecture on the future of the British film industry. The substantial Hans Jiirgen Syberberg retrospective was a welcome initiative in collaboration with the International Festival, but with only two screens available it did have the effect ofeating up vast tracts of valuable time.
Individual cheers and cavils aside though, Thomson‘s appointment has brought a much greater professional focus to the always enthusiastic endeavours of the myriad festival staff. With funding set to prove an even greater headache and the current financial climate drying up sponsorship, the future looks more challenging than ever. Above all. the achievement of 1992’s EIFF has been to restore some confidence that the right team is in situ to meet it head on.
52 The List 28 August — 10 September 1992