Hannah McGill

Women's Impact Report: One Giant Leap

There’s nothing quite like a plan coming together.

When Edinburgh Intl. Film Fest director Hannah McGill decided to shift the event from its customary August date — where it traditionally nestled alongside the cultural jamboree of the main Edinburgh arts, fringe and literary events — many in the U.K. film biz raised their eyebrows. The move, however, appears to have paid off handsomely.

Now free to be judged on its own merits, rather than as simply another reason to visit the Scottish city, this year’s film fest saw a 39% increase in delegates to around 800 and a 19% rise in accredited press to 618. The fest invested much of its increased funding from the U.K. Film Council by inviting more industry players, critics and reporters, which led to busy press screenings and an enhanced program of industry events.

A former film critic-turned-fest director now in her second year in charge at Edinburgh, the 31-year-old McGill is continuing to draw plaudits for her innovative and bold approach. Her attempts to redefine Edinburgh as a world-class festival of cinematic discovery seem to have paid off, with high numbers of public attendance from native Scots. “It went even better than we expected,” McGill says. “The box office was good, and we’ve been lucky to have had lots of positive feedback.”

An erudite fixture on the film fest circuit in her journo days, McGill has now successfully made the transition to the other side of the fence and is relishing the experience of being scrutinized by her former colleagues. “I think it’s healthy for film critics to be sniped at rather than always sniping about people,” McGill quips. “The biggest difference is I get my photo taken a lot more now.”

Role model: “Hildy Johnson from ‘His Girl Friday.'”

What I’m reading now: “I just finished Hermione Lee’s biography of Edith Wharton.”

Fave leisure activity: “Watching movies.”

Career mantra: “It’s better than having a proper job.”

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