Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Edinburgh Film Festival Diaries
Edinburgh Diary - Day 13

by Christine Harris-Smyth

Begin to recover from The Evening Standard party with a coke and an interview with Dave Sproxton of Aardman, the home of Oscar winners "Wallace and Gromit". It is now festival legend that Dave got himself a table in a local restaurant which refused him entry by pulling models of "Wallace and Gromit" out of his magic bag. Such is the power of these puppets that Dave was then given the best table and remarkable service.

The NBX Lunch Time Talk today is given by screenwriter Peter Flannery, who is very much the raconteur one expects a British writer to be. Like Denis Potter before him, Flannery has a central role in his projects, his most recent being the incredibly successful BBC TV drama "Our friends in the North". Flannery has influence regarding director and casting, and has even the power to rewrite the first episode after two to six were completed. I imagine this is unheard of in America.

He also makes it clear that this power, and unwillingness to compromise, has a cost. In order to develop his latest project Flannery has remortgaged his house and borrowed ten thousand pounds from a friend. While he may seem pigheaded to some, no one in the audience can doubt his commitment to his work.

I lunch with a young New Zealand producer who abandons me at some point to speak to the producer of "Rob Roy". Given the choice I would probably do the same.

At 6 PM 85-year-old Henri Alekan, the cinematographer on Cocteau's "La Belle et la Bête", delivers his Scene By Scene. It is yet again pure magic. Alekan speaks French and his answers are translated but the audience knows enough franglais to get the jokes before this happens. Once again we have a standing ovation. This is the best way to show our appreciation and everyone in the room recognizes that the man who shot both "Belle et la Bête" and Wim Wender's "Wings of Desire" is worth his weight in cinema classics.

A gala screening, with orchestra, of Lon Chaney's "Phantom of The Opera" is the key event tonight. The beautifully restored print and orchestration from Carl Davis (with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra) in The Playhouse (in its day one of Europe's largest cinemas) is a treat. Many in the audience are very tired (from too many large Edinburgh nights) but no one falls asleep - or possibly 'when the organ plays no one can hear you snore'.

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