Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Edinburgh Film Festival Diaries

by Christine Harris-Smyth

In August of every year over 1 million visitors pour into the heart of Scotland's capital city
with a view to sampling an array of fine whiskey and eclectic culture. The Edinburgh Festival
is one of the most important cultural events on the world calendar. The Drambuie Edinburgh Film
Festival, which runs concurrently, has run alongside the main festival programme for 50 years,
making it the oldest international film festival in the world (Cannes celebrates its 50th
birthday in 1997).

While DEFF is primarily a festival for the public, it is also a major focal point for British
film. Many new talents are discovered here and the New British Expo (NBX) shows almost every
British feature made in the previous year (making it the most comprehensive showcase of British
film in the world).

The programme for the 1996 DEFF spans 50 years of cinema, every conceivable genre, and
premieres dozens of films, both British and international. One of the highlights is undoubtedly
the "Scene by Scene" events at which the public comes face-to-face with filmmakers
deconstructing their own illusions. Last year the Coen brothers took part and loved it so much
they asked to be invited back. This year David Cronenberg presents "Crash", Bernardo Bertolucci
looks at both "The Conformists" and his latest film "Stealing Beauty", Peter Greenaway offers
his insights on "The Pillow Book" and the cinematographer Henri Alekan discusses his
ground-breaking work on Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et Bete" ("Beauty and the Beast") which
screened at the very first Edinburgh Film Festival in 1947.

A strong documentary programme augmented by a retrospective "Great Moments in Documentary History" is complemented by Rosebud, the showcase for new and innovative cinema, while Foster's "Mirrorball" lets the wild child of cinema - the music video - take the main stage. The official Drambuie Edinburgh Festival Programme shouts the festival's desire to be "the most passionate, the most knowledgeable, the most discriminating festival anywhere." I look forward to moving beyond "Dragonheart" - the opening night film - into the flickering light of this ambitious - and not so little - celebration of cinema.

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