Edinburgh fest goes free-form

Its 65th edition allows guest curators to experiment

The organizers of the Edinburgh Film Festival stopped by Berlin to reveal their radical plans for the 65th-anniversary edition in June.

Rather than a single artistic director, guest curators will be given free rein to arrange screenings, music, art events and other happenings. Among the curators are Isabella Rossellini, Gus Van Sant, Jim Jarmusch, Sara Driver and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, as well as “Black Swan” composer Clint Mansell, composer Greil Marcus, author Alan Warner and musician Mike Skinner.

Edinburgh, billed as the world’s longest continually running film fest, is sweeping away all its established sections and prizes for a one-off celebration challenging preconceptions about what fests should be.

It will still showcase original and innovative new filmmaking but, in an effort to focus on quality rather than quantity, there will be fewer premieres than in recent years.

This follows a shake-up in management and a significant cut in the fest’s budget after the end of its three-year funding deal with the now-defunct U.K. Film Council.

The fest is primarily funded by Creative Scotland, formed last year from the merger of Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council. Creative Scotland co-hosted a Berlinale reception Monday.

Former artistic director Hannah McGill, who ankled after last year’s event, has not been replaced. Instead, James Mullighan, who previously ran the indie filmmaker network Shooting People, will produce the event, following a blueprint drawn up by artistic advisers Mark Cousins, Tilda Swinton and Lynda Myles.

According to Cousins, “the crammed, gridlocked, moribund world of film festivals” needs updating, with a less formal, more playful approach, and less emphasis on sponsorship, industry events and red carpets.

To indicate their ambition to experiment, the organizers are naming the fest’s transformation after Douglas Sirk’s 1955 melodrama about challenging conventions and breaking taboos, “All That Heaven Allows.”

Fest will move from August to June 15-26, freeing up a number of unconventional venues around Edinburgh.

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