i EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL
pne's a on Io
Veteran film critic Mark Kermode shares his experiences of the EIFF and tips on finding our festival feet
What are your thoughts on the EIFF? My line has always been that Edinburgh is like Cannes only civilised. Cannes is horrible. genuinely horrible. It's completely the wrong culture to watch films; it's a hideous broiling Riviera full of incredibly rich people and yachts. The whole of it's crawling with press and there’s a total lock-down bunker mentality that everyone is desperate to get into everything and it turns everyone against each other.
So, what makes Edinburgh different? It has always been the complete antithesis of this. For a start. the culture of being in Edinburgh — the streets are nicer, the bars are nicer. simply it's just a nicer place to be.‘ What have your experiences of the festival been? Edinburgh is where I had my best ever festival experience. I had gone up to Edinburgh for Film 4 and my friend gave me a ring out of the blue to watch a press screening of a Japanese film [Takashi Milke's Audition] — I didn't know anything about it. So we turned up to this film and it's a lovely little romantic comedy. a funny story about this guy who is difficult and awkward and can't meet girls. And then it turned into the most scary, literally. hide under the seat in front of you because you have no idea what is coming next film. And it was absolutely brilliant because we were completely unprepared for it. no expectations whatsoever, and it absolutely ran both of us over like a steam train.
Any other festival stories? I remember when Gaspar Noe introduced Irreversible at the festival. About ten minutes into it, after a guy getting his head stoved in with a fire extinguisher. the guy in front of me passed out and I had to carry him out to the auditorium. When I came in I thought, this is brilliant. this is absolutely the way to see films.
Do you have any hot tips? The key thing is to keep an open mind and always retire to a bar after to talk about it and enjoy it.
(Interview by Susannah Nichol)
I Radio 5 Live ’3 Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode: Wittertainment at its most Wittertaining, Cinewor/d, Fri 79 Jun, 7pm, free but ticketed.
24 THE LIST 1 1—25 Jun 2009
aul Dale celebrates the inclusion of the TV films of uncompromising filmmakers Peter McDougall and John Mackenzie in this year's EIFF
"" / /’
oor. white. Protestant and on the run
from (ireenock‘s shipyards. Peter
McDougall may not have possessed the background to execute the first two Reithian tenets of public service and probity. but he certainly knew about universality. 'l'he mythology goes that McDougall was discovered by (‘olin (‘ltariots of l-‘ire Welland when he was painting the latter‘s house in the early-1970s. McDougall entertained Welland so much with his humorous stories about being forced to lead the orange march as a teenager that Welland urged him to write a television play. The BB(‘ was looking for social realist screenplays and had started hot—housing Ken Loach. Mike Leigh and Willy Russell.
McDougall went away and wrote a masterpiece. Just xlIIUI/H’I' Saturday. the blackly comic drama of one young man‘s journey from excitement to horror over the course of a day outwith the annual orange march in Glasgow proved too contentious for the BBC. Impressed. but fearful. they invited McDougall to write more.
The result was Just Your Luck. an equally contentious exploration of the sectarian divide
in which a young Protestant girl finds herself
pregnant by a (‘atholic boy. The BB(‘ green-lit the project. signed up Mike Newell to direct. stood back and watched the fall out.
Millions watched the I’lavy/‘ur Today and McDougall became a Scottish cause celebre. Not used to seeing their nation painted in such bleak and unflinching detail. the local press
had a field day. btlt no one doubted the talent behind the dialogue. McDougall had done what no one before him had: taken the language of the streets of Glasgow and put it on the page.
It was W73 and one of the great partnerships of Scottish filmmaking was about to begin. lidinburgh-born John Mackenzie was looking for something gritty and Scottish. He began sniffing around .\‘lcl)ougall‘s Just Another Satan/av. Skilled at getting things made on zero budgets. he got the production of the unchanged script completed in l‘)75.
Just xlIHH/ll’l‘ Saturday was lauded internationally. It was a turning point in Scottish cinema history. [ii a few years Bill l’orsyth would follow their lead and make This Sinking Feeling. kicking off a fifteen-year vogue for Scottish film that would end with 'I‘rains/mtting. Mackenzie and .\*lcl)ougall would go on to make one more masterpiece — 1979's razor gang tale Just a ans' (iame and celebrated TV feature xl Sense of I’reedmn about the salvation of Jimmy Boyle. Scotland and the dirty footprint of its sprawling west coast city breathe through all these works. I urge you to visit these gallows of mirth.
Just a Boy’s Game, Filmhouse, Thu 18 Jun, 3pm. Just Another Saturday and The Elephant’s Graveyard, Fri 19 Jun, 3.45pm. A Sense of Freedom, Sat 20 Jun, 4.15pm. All Filmhouse, £6.50 (£5.50). Ticket offers available.