Closing frames

Trevor Johnston assesses the 1993 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

With only three days left to run, the 47th Edinburgh lntemational Film Festival winds into its closing weekend with a bagful of intriguing prospects to come and the time to mull over what and who's been and gone in a generally low-key year. Among highlights still awaited are the return of the prodigal Michael Caton-Jones and his effective rites-of-passage pic This Boy's Life. the cultish Hispanic schlocker Aceion Muranre. the Peter McDougall-scripted Scots toughie Down Among The Big Boys and Anthony Minghella‘s Truly Madly Deeply follow-up Mr Wonderful, whose leading man Matt Dillon the ElFF organisers are still hoping (at the time of going to press) will be in town to boost what has been an occasionally threadbare I993 guest-list.

For Penny Thomson and her ever- industrious staff. it’s been one of those years on the illustrious visitors front. with both Martin Scorsese and Catherine Deneuve foced to cancel their trips at a late stage. Yet ifgenuine A-list glam celebs have been thin on the ground, the buzz around the ‘Just Do lt‘ weekend, the welcome last- minute addition of Agneszkia Holland’s soon-to-be-classic children's film The Secret Garden. and the moving reception given to Derek Jarman and his stirring testament Blue just about

made up for it.

The final weekend. of course. also sees the annual haggling over Edinburgh‘s variably significant slew




A. s I?“ ' “s

of prizes and. ifpublic reaction is anything to go by. Antonia Bird‘s challenging and compassionate study of homelessness. Safe should walk away

Still to come (clockwise from top left): Accion Winnie. It Wonderful and Med

with the Michael Powell Award for the best British film. It's a discovery every bit as telling as last year‘s You Me and Marley. yet. as Blue producer James Mackay pointed out during the ‘Just Do lt' US/UK indies session it’s surely illogical ofthe BBC to deny such powerful projects the much-deserved and highly appropriate profile of a cinematic release.

Thankfully. that won‘t be the case with Mike Leigh‘s courageous. excoriating state-of-the-nation pic Naked. which boasts the performance ofa lifetime from David Thewlis in a portrait of 90s London life on the fringe. lts scenes of sexual violence resonant with male guilt and frustration. its portrait of everyday struggles both bleak and absurdly humorous, the film‘s confrontation with g the basic reasons why any of us bother to carry on, make it essential viewing. Fittingly, it's the Film Festival's closing gala: there‘s no way you could follow l n.

_ Doing it in style

At one end of the filmmaking spectrum, the trade papers boast ever- escalating box office successes and record-breaking openings: millions in a day, hundreds oi millions over a couple of months, etc, etc. The bigger the figures, the better the copy.

At the other end, the figures are lost as important In the promotion of a movie, but here it’s a case of ‘Iess is more’: no sooner does one remarkable feature appear, made for $100,000, than another comes along costing only

My life's In Turnaround

half that, and so on, down to nickel and dime budgets. If the ElFF’s focus on low-budget filmmaking - the much hyped ‘Just Do It’ weekend - proved anything, it was that there’s no need to make excuses for a picture because of its impoverished background: some of the most exciting movies being made anywhere in the world are coming in on budgets that should

shame those Hollywood excesses.

At the Edinburgh event were a host of US hot shots peddling their wares: seven thousand dollar man Robert Rodriguez and ‘El Mariachi’, Eric Schaetfer and Donal Ward with the well-received “My Life’s In Turnaround’, Larry Meistrich and ‘laws (if Gravity’, which he produced. The formal bridge between them and their British counterparts was provided by two talking sessions: the first, on Saturday 21, was more geared towards the Americans and their tales of resilience.

Sunday 22’s affair was more relevent, allowing varying interpretations of the words ‘Iow-budget’ and ‘independent’ to be tossed back and forth between John Pierson (of key US funding group Islet inc), Gary Sinyor (co-producer/co-

director of ‘Leon The Pig Farmer’), James Mackay (producer of ‘Blue’), lynda Myles (producer of ‘The Snapper’) and Richard Holmes (producer of ‘Soft Top, Hard Shoulder’). Deferred payment was the name of the game for the Brits, while the prevailing US attitude was more geared towards physically getting things done in a kick-ass sort of way. All in all, the mood among the young British talents was that all the doses of inspiration couldn’t cure their deeper frustration at the set-up in this country. But until the tilt crew take on the us approach of thinking low budget from conception rather than backing down once the thing is written, then we’ll still be looking in awe across the Atlantic. (Alan Morrison)

48 The List 27 August—9 September 1993