Thom Dibdin looks back at the Drambuie Edinburgh Film Festival and recommends a few ﬁlms playing over its last weekend.
‘Don’t take care!’ the catchphrase of the l99-l Film Festival, was maverick Hollywood director Andre de Toth‘s advice to aspiring filmmakers. The ‘grandaddy with a flicknife' of the Festival. as he became known. has delivered his pragmatic venom to at least three journalists a day and garnered a loyal following for the screenings of his films. His Crimewave shows in the “Salon de Toth' (Cameo 2. Fri 26. 6.45pm) with a second chance to see Ramrml there two days later (Sun 28. 4. I 5pm).
Actually. the Film Festival organisers have been taking a lot ofcare. particularly at the Drambuie Pavilion on Lothian Road. A great improvement on last year's rather shaky marquee affair. it has become the bean ofthe Festival. even if it is slightly transplanted away from the screening venues. Filmmakers. public and press have been able to rub shoulders and discuss films. filmmaking and. of course. the latest gossip.
This care has been rewarded with increased ticket sales. as the Film Festival. unlike the other festivals does not seem to have been hit by the train strikes. Having lived with the nightmare that his choice of films might not take the public's fancy. this has tnade Mark Cousins. head of programming. particularly happy. The Scandinavian films have been selling out. which hasn‘t happened before. And 100 Days Before The Connnand, which he confesses to having been unsure about, had a very positive audience reaction. it gets a second screening on Friday 26. 6.15pm in Cameo 1.
With the death of Derek Jarman. the Festival has lost a great friend. As a tribute to him. The Making of
.S'ebastiane will be screened with Glitter-[mg on Saturday 27. Filmhouse 2. 4pm. if you can't get a ticket to these. then Past 'I'rip. Long [)mp (Filmhouse 1. Sat 27. 4.30pm) is widely tipped to be the best him yet about AIDS. Lovers of French cinema should not miss l.'l:'au Fruit/e (Cameo l. Sat 27. 1.30pm). This examination of teenage angst is shot in a melancholy. washed-out blue which is more than offset by a pumping early 70s rock soundtrack.
The unsurpassed hit of the Festival was a one-off (sadly) screening of Priest — described as a ‘work in progress‘ — directed by last year‘s Chaplin Award winner Antonia Bird. The press are forbidden from reviewing it. but all who saw it are looking forward to its BBC television screening. The Adventures of Priscilla. Queen af'T/te [)esert drew deserved accolades at the opening gala. particularly from those who took the glittering option from the ‘Black Tie or Drag‘ invitiation to the party afterwards. Priscilla gets two screenings on Sunday 28: Cameo l. |.3()pm and Cameo 2. 6.45pm.
Such revelry is unlikely at the closing gala. Les Patriotes (Odeon 1. Sun 28. 7.30pm). Although this thriller about a Mossad intelligence officer is marred by being overlong. it is entertaining enough and is an interesting examination of deceit. A better choice to
les Patriotes finish on would have been The Browning Version (Cameo 1. Sun 28. l 1.15am and Cameo 3. 8.45pm). itselfgently paced. which casts Albert Finney as an outmanoetn'ercd and cast-aside classics teacher in an English boarding school.
Best of the Fest - Sunday 28.
The Browning Version I l.l5am.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert 1.30pm.
Tartan Shorts 3.45pm.
Glitterbug and Fast Trip, Long Drop 6. 15pm.
To Live 8.30pm.
Carlo And Ester L45an
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert 6.45pm.
The Pornographers 4. l 5pm. Beg 6.30pm.
The Browning Version 8.45pm.
[— Joker’s wild
Twenty years from now, when Melvin Bragg leans on his Zimmer frame to Introduce a South Bank Show special on internationally renowned cinema auteur Simon Sprackiing, how will he describe those early days before fame beckoned? Hard to reckon, really, because Sprackiing (whose debut as a feature director, The Funny Man, is screening at the Film Festival) is currently more famous for legendary Edinburgh drinking exploits than celluloid output. But maybe we can start rewriting that CV already.
He’s been at the forefront of the modern rock music scene (he played
llalrstyle). He left the stuffiness of academia for the more challenging task of low-budget underground lilmmaklng (he dropped out of the Communications Studies course at Queen Margaret College in order to run around with a video camera making exploitation spoofs with his mates). lie was co-founder of a long- runnlng independent literary newspaper (he helped setup Shavers’
Weekly). He has provided financial support for performance artists in multl-media venues (he once offered a ten quid prize to the person who could keep their genitals submerged longest in a tank of piranha fish at his Cassedallweekendo club).
The Funny Man Is a line-’em-up, kill- ’em-off horror tale with a childisth cruel streak of humour. After winning an ancestral home in a poker game, cocky record producer Max Taylor, invites his family and friends to share his hospitality, but pretty soon they’re dispatched one by one in various inventiver gory ways by a demented Punch-like figure with a snappy line in goodbyes. Straightforward genre fun here, but the cast opens a few eyes, as It ranges from horror icon Christopher Lee, to stand-up comedienne llhona Cameron in
Thelma-from-Scooby-Doo role, Selector singer Pauline Black and, eh, George Morton who hangs out with the director in Edinburgh’s Black Bo’s pub. ‘We just sent him the script through his agent,’ says Sprackiing of landing Lee. ‘The missus picked up the phone and thought it was someone taking the piss. But he really liked the script. i got this long lecture about how he’d turned down John Carpenter and how he’d been in the business for so long, and he went on and on. Finally he said, “If you tone the swearing down a bit, I’ll be interested’.’ And i said “You fucking beauty!”. Mind you, it’s a pity it wasn’t Peter Cushing. But I’m sure Chris will oblige by dying the week before we open.’ (Alan Morrison) The Funny Man, Cameo 1, Fri 26, 10.45pm and general release in October.
58 The List 26 August—8 September 1994