Fujiwara named Edinburgh fest artistic director

Gavin Miller ankles as CEO of fest's parent company

TORONTO — Chris Fujiwara has been appointed artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival while Gavin Miller, CEO of the fest’s parent company, Centre of the Moving Image, has ankled his post.

Fujiwara, a writer, journalist and film critic, will replace former fest director James Mullighan, who headed up the 2011 edition, arguably the fest’s most disappointing year to date.

Fujiwara, who is currently based in Tokyo but plans to relocate to Scotland later in the year, has worked as a program consultant, selection advisor and competition juror across a slew of international film fests.

He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique (FIPRESCI) and has published books on pics including “The Little Black Book: Movies.”

“We are delighted to have someone of the caliber of Chris Fujiwara joining us and we look forward to a festival to remember in 2012,” said Leslie Hills, chair of CMI in a statement. “His extraordinary knowledge of and passion for film, coupled with a fantastic range of contacts, working with the expertise and dedication of Edinburgh International Film Festival staff, is exciting and will no doubt bring unexpected and delightful results.”

Regular festgoers were disappointed with last year’s edition, in which Mullighan decided to scrap red carpet events and the Michael Powell Award and also failed to reveal its line up to industryites until well into Cannes.

Attendees told Variety that the edition last June was “one of its sleepiest,” so early clarity of who is running the show next year could be just the tonic.

“At such a time, I’m thrilled to be starting work with the Edinburgh International Film Festival,” said Fujiwara. “I’m especially enthusiastic because Edinburgh is a festival that has been known in the past for taking the lead during periods when filmmaking and film criticism were going through major transitions. I look forward to working hard to make Edinburgh central to the transitions that are now underway.”

Miller’s decision to ankle as CEO of CMI after 18 months comes after speculation of conflicts between his view of the direction of the festival and the board.

Miller appointed Mullighan last year.

“There is never an easy time to leave a company that you’ve put your heart and soul into redefining and re-engineering, but I feel now is a good moment to step back and to pursue other interests,” said Miller.