EDINBURGHChris Fujiwara has renewed his deal as artistic director of the Edinburgh Film Festival for a further three years, after making a successful debut at the 2012 edition.

Ticket sales at the 66th fest, which ran June 20 to July 1, rose 18% to just over 40,000, although that remains well below the peak of 51,000 in 2008.

The 2012 program was also more than twice the size of the shrunken 2011 edition, with 120 new films screened compared with just over 50 the previous year.

But more importantly, Fujiwara’s selection received wide critical praise for the unusually consistent quality of both his contemporary choices and his retrospectives.

Auds and critics also welcomed the return of the fest’s awards, and high-profile red carpet premieres at Edinburgh’s Festival Theater.

New York-born Fujiwara, who was based in Tokyo before moving to Edinburgh in January, commented, “Working on this year’s (festival) has been one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences of my career. The interest and enthusiasm of the festival audience and the dedication and professionalism of the festival staff and volunteers have transformed my view of the importance cinema can hold in people’s lives.”

Fest chair Leslie Hills said, “(The Edinburgh Film Festival) is an institution with a reputation for reinvention over decades. Chris Fujiwara gave us a superb reinvention in (this year’s festival). Chris, along with the excellent support of staff and volunteers delivered, with his signature intelligence, knowledge and humour, a multi-faceted program which engaged filmgoers and professionals, students and critics alike.”