Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Edinburgh Film Festival Diaries
Edinburgh Diary - Day 11

by Christine Harris-Smyth

It's getting tough to remember what day it is or what movie I saw last. The latter is a moot point today, as I see none. It is pure talk-fest.

The 'usual suspects' head a panel devoted to the subject of finance at NBX's first lunch-time talk. It is evident that most British films are financed by broadcasters and development of independent work is frequently subsidized by the state.

There is talk of franchises, insurance, and tax breaks. British features are generally made for a budget between 1 million and 2.5 million pounds. This is no doubt lower than American counterparts.

I am hearing the same thing I heard in Cannes with a similar internationally oriented panel earlier this year. Massive growth in broadcast streams, largely due to cable, satellite, and new markets is creating demand for more product. Lower-budget films are now important to the global industry (including multinational companies).

UK film is not in the 'Waterworld' league but the British are now looking at building an industry beyond television and beyond the petticoats of costume drama. It is an interesting time to be a British filmmaker.

Alan Shiach, in some senses the Godfather of Scottish film, delivers the... Shiach is better known to the film world as Alan Scott, writer of Nicholas Roeg's 1973 classic "Don't Look Now". Shiach's polished and somewhat mercurial performance was broken up with trailers from forthcoming releases "Ransom", "Michael Collins", "Evita", "The Preacher's Wife" and "In Love and War". The seasoned (perhaps cynical audience) laughs at Julia Roberts in "Michael Colleens" but what can you really tell from a trailer?

Next, the highlight of the day, and for many people of the festival, when Bernardo Bertolucci delivers a Scene by Scene on "The Conformist". Bertolucci is generous in attributing credit to his collaborators and comes across as a very humane maestro. He sees himself and all stages of his career with great clarity. Being Italian, he talks with his hands, bringing more life to the stage than I have seen all festival. Along the way he slips in an analogy about the camera and the keyhole to his parents' room. He is very Freudian. After casually dropping this self-deprecating anecdote about his voyeurism Bertolucci finishes with the opening scene from "Stealing Beauty".

Tonight I continue to follow the wayward footsteps of most festival goers and go to parties I don't quite know the purpose of. This reminds me of a house I lived in when I was a teenager. With 23 bedrooms and 30-ish flatmates it was not unusual to come home to an impromptu party (which at full moons tended to bear uncanny resemblance to a riot). Not many people at these parties know what they are there for apart from drinking free drink, eating free food and making friends famously. The first one is for "Granton Star Cause" and is rather upbeat because Jarvis Cocker of "Pulp" is lurking in a corner and Irvine Welsh (author of "Trainspotting" and writer of the short in question) is the patron saint of Edinburgh's clubland.

I am in bed by midnight.

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