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Proposals for a new Film Festival building emerged as the curtain came down
on the 2004 programme
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We may be suffering from Edinburgh Festival fatigue, but now is the time to ask whether it lived up to the hype.
ike a \vilted bunch of flowers. the Festival is something nobody vvants to linger over novy. The urge to blank it all out is irresistible. But
does the desire to forget the months inI/ard of
activity mean that the event never receives a full. overall critique'.’
Weary of the shovvs and all those revievvs (The List: over ()(X): The .S'r'nrwrun: roughly 800; Three Ht’U/(S: a ball-breaking l()()()). it’s not surprising that fevv people vvho fully engaged with the Festival can bring themselves to think back over the events of August. Yet the clock is ticking and each of the Festivals has to vveigh up vvhat it can carry forward into next year.
Just before the Festival opened. organisers had vvarned that if public funding isn‘t increased. the city faces competition from a host of other festivals in Britain. But despite these warnings and the bad vveather. ticket sales soared. Fringe ticket sales were tlp by I39} and Book Festival sales by 12%.
What of the content'.’ For sheer star appeal. Ztltl—l easily belonged to (‘hristian Slater. ()ne of the fevv Holly'vvood :\—lister.s (\vell ()K. B-listers) in tovvn. Slater‘s’ bout of the pox made him the talk of the gossip columns. and fortunately his performance at the centre of an unremarkable ('rrr'kmr‘s Nev! production
just about lived up to the hype. But in nearly every
other case. this year it was quality that triumphed over celebrity. From the zero to hero story of Perrier vvinner
Jackson‘s Way. to the poignant account of the siege of a Palestinian tovvn. ll'lu'n I/Ir' lirr/lm/ Stu/rpm! Singing. and the brilliant individual efforts by Kathryn Hunter in ('c/r'smru and James l'rbaniak in 'l'lmm l’ur’rr. line performances stood high above the oil slick of PR. lidinburgh‘s art community rrsually an enemy of hype v managed to act in unison for long enough to launch the .-\rt Festival. vv ith a group of shoyvs in vvhiclr the luscious curves of 'l'itian and his mates were matched (in terms of the quality of art. if not case of access) by Mike Nelson's wonderful old American bits.
The Film Festival felt a little on the rellective side. It‘s not that the auditoria \veren‘t packed. but having to cancel the planned shovving of Wong Kar Wai's 204/) slightly took the vvind out of an otlrervvise vibrant Festival's sails. In the end the lill‘l’ story that threatened to vyin most column inches vvas about the proposed construction of a £20m cinema complex. which could hotlse the Film Festival every August. and Filmhouse for the rest of the year.
So vvas it one of the great l'iestivals‘.’ ('ontent-vvise. possibly not. But during August. this corner of Scotland fought its vvay to the heart of the cultural universe. For the shot in the arm that it gives our performing arts especially as Vicky l-ieatherstonc prepares to take tip her directorship of the nevv National Theatre the Festival is becoming more povverful. important and dovvnright unmissable than ever.
I n Stage Beauty Cameo. Edinburgh Friday 3 September
Katharine TkX‘A"H \‘sE‘ sitAfhk"
l0r‘.ro\.ed the ‘ ln‘,
although :t was " ' qurte -.-.hat expected The last scene when the. act their socks or; :s tren‘endous. It's nrce tc watch lktili‘: like Tom \‘v rlkrnson
6 THE LIST 9-2.: Sep 200.;