Edinburgh plays to the audience

Castle shadows Scot cinema fete which highlights family this year

If you spend any time in the Scottish capital during the month of August, it’s near impossible to avoid the amazing array of arts and entertainment events held throughout the city.

The Edinburgh Intl. Film Festival, held this year from Aug. 13-27, is just one of a half dozen festivals spanning new cinema, theater, jazz, blues, live comedy (the Fringe), and parading of bag pipes and tartan (the Edinburgh Military Tattoo).

Just behind the Edinburgh Castle, which sits on the enormous green Mound in city center, is the film festival’s stomping ground, where seven dedicated theaters draw a high percentage of industryites as well as locals.

“It’s a festival at which the audience really counts,” says director Lizzie Francke, who’s helmed the event for four years. “(We attract) people who are enthusiastic about cinema, but we reach beyond buffs. We are very committed to audience development, to try and get new audiences into more difficult work and ensure that the festival is open to all.

“For instance, this year we have a very strong lineup aimed at families and young people — it’s a new dedicated strand. Children and young people are the audiences of the future.”

The Family lineup included the world preem of “The Little Vampire,” starring Jonathan Lipnicki, as well as foreign kids fare such as the Swedish pic “Tsatsiki.”

The fest opened with Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Dancer in the Dark,” from Danish director Lars von Trier.

“Each year has its own character,” says Francke. “This year we reflect the very 21st-century moment, gliding from the mechanical to the digital age in cinema.”

One film that fits into this theme is “Time Code,” the split-screen opus by Mike Figgis, who was on hand to DJ a live soundtrack for the pic’s screening in Edinburgh.

While the Edinburgh lineup over the past few years has been filled with Cannes, Berlin and Sundance hits, it also has become the top U.K. fest for Brit pic exposure.

“We have been there with the British new wave,” says Francke. “We world premiered such British films as Carine Adler’s ‘Under the Skin,’ Shane Meadows’ ‘Room for Romeo Brass,’ Guy Ritchie’s ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.'” This year the fest showcased strong Brit works including Paul Pawlikowski’s “Last Resort” (before it goes on to Venice) and Terence Davies’ “The House of Mirth.”

The 54th outing also provided some forums for discussion of the current state of the British film industry — “a subject for serious scrutiny at the moment,” notes Francke.

Contributing to Edinburgh’s sharper edge are the discovery showcases Rosebud and Mirrorball, the thoughtful retrospectives and the Reel Life lecture series, which has brought out helmers such as Bernardo Bertolucci, David Cronenberg, Joel and Ethan Coen, Paul Verhoeven and Atom Egoyan.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content