James Mullighan to apply for post

The Edinburgh Film Festival, which wrapped Sunday, has confirmed that it will advertise for a new artistic director immediately.

The current director James Mullighan, who does not have the word “artistic” in his title, intends to apply for the job.

The 12-day fest has been widely criticized for its reduced program of new features with few stand-out titles, for its low-key presentation and for organizational and PR blunders leading up to the event.

Despite announcing plans for a revamp to celebrate its 65th anniversary, there has been little evidence of the radical ideas proposed by artistic advisors Mark Cousins, Lynda Myles and Tilda Swinton in their creative blueprint, “All That Heaven Allows.”

According to distributors and other industry insiders, the fest suffered from the lack of a recognized a.d. in its failure to secure high-profile titles such as “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “Tree of Life.”

Mullighan, formerly creative director of indie filmmaker network Shooting People, was approached to run the fest in December in a short-term emergency appointment, after formal recruitment failed to find a replacement for previous artistic director Hannah McGill.

Mullighan’s title was announced as producer, but changed to director before he started in February, just four months before the fest began.

According to sources close to the board, Mullighan was hired to put the blueprint into practice. He’s admitted his frustration that he did not have more time do so.Leslie Hills, chair of the Center for the Moving Image, which runs the fest, said, “James Mullighan is leading the festival’s 65th anniversary celebrations, and we are delighted with the audience response. In July, as planned, we will begin the recruitment process for 2012.”

Ticket sales for this year’s event have yet to be announced but given the smaller program of premieres, and the end of discounts for multiple ticket purchases, sales are expected to be down on last year’s 44,456, itself a 10% drop from 2009.

Among this year’s hottest-selling tickets were David Hare’s “Page Eight” and David MacKenzie’s “Perfect Sense.”

The fest closed this weekend with screenings of “Lion King 3D,” the Kings of Leon documentary “Talahina Sky” and Sundance winning doc “Hell and Back Again.”

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