Festival tries to position itself as debate forum

A month after Cannes seems as good a time as any for the British film industry to stop and take stock of itself.

That’s the theory, anyway. With its new June date, the Edinburgh Intl. Film Festival is trying to position itself as a forum for debate among British filmmakers and executives — just as the TV Festival in the Scottish capital at the end of August has always served Blighty’s telly types.

New coin from the U.K. Film Council is funding an expanded program of industry events, with organizers bending every sinew to entice key players from London and further afield. There will be more dinners, more drinks with filmmakers, and generally a “more formal and structured” approach to networking, according to insiders.

Centerpiece of the program is a June 23 event in which the production chiefs of the U.K. Film Council (UKFC), BBC Films, Film4 and all the regional agencies will explain what they do and chat with filmmakers.

UKFC, Film4 and Skillset are launching the Directors’ Lab, in which six emerging British helmers will be intensively mentored for a week in all aspects of the business. This will include development work on specific feature projects.

Each day at 6 p.m. there will be a panel at the Traverse Theater, targeted equally at the industry and public. Subjects range from the state of animation, horror, docs and British cinema to piracy, the future of film criticism, and the role of landscape and locations in filmmaking.

Mary Davies, who heads the EIFF’s industry liaison team, has invited more foreign buyers and sales agents than ever before. Some buyers will come to Edinburgh on their way to the London U.K. Film Focus, the annual sales event for the British film biz (June 30-July 3). The fest is laying on extra screenings in the last couple of days for buyers who missed the beginning.

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