The Edinburgh International Film Festival made its 2012 dates official yesterday. As incoming EIFF director Chris Fujiwara told EdinburghGuide.com last month, the festival will not be moving back to August this year, but will run again in June (20 June to 1 July 2012).
The official announcement was made jointly by Ken Hay, who is acting CEO, Centre for the Moving Image, and Fujiwara.
There has been anger and disappointment that the EIFF, after a troubled and low-key festival earlier this year, has not chosen to move back to its original dates in August . By rejoining the other major Edinburgh Festivals, the EIFF box office would benefit from the huge influx of people into the city and the festival would gain increased exposure from media who wouldn't otherwise travel to Edinburgh in June.
For Ken Hay, and anyone else you talk to who knows the EIFF, this has been at the heart of the matter.
Hay said: “The ‘June or August’ debate has been at the forefront of discussions since the end of this year’s Festival and is a matter on which the board has sought broad consultation. The film industry, including press, distributors and sales agents, have all been part of the conversation to ensure a decision that is correct and will provide the very best future for the Festival.”
Among those who support the earlier EIFF dates is John Trafford-Owen, Head of Theatrical Distribution at STUDIOCANAL.
"We look forward to continuing our relationship with EIFF in June, a time of year that creates the ideal platform for late summer and autumn launches as demonstrated so successfully this year when we were able to open the festival with John Michael McDonagh's The Guard," he said.
Zak Brilliant, Vice President, Distribution & Publicity, Icon Film Distribution, added, “we’re very much looking forward to supporting the 2012 programme in June.”
Babies and bathwater
Soon after this year's festival ended the EIFF made a slightly odd announcement (4 July) that, among other things:
"The Michael Powell Award is a major asset of the EIFF and, after our unique 65th birthday celebrations, we will continue our tradition of recognising and rewarding excellence with this award."
After losing key funding, then a string of people at the top of the festival, the EIFF chiefs jettisoned the awards and red carpets for last year's revamped festival, in what was a case of chucking baby out and bathwater.
Yesterday's announcement reiterated that the Michael Powell for Best New British Feature, which was inaugurated in 1993, has been re-instated. The award is given in recognition of imagination and creativity in British filmmaking and is judged by an international jury.
Previous winners of the award include; Somers Town (Shane Meadows), Control (Anton Corbijn), Tsotsi (Gavin Hood), My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski), Young Adam (David Mackenzie), Jude (Michael Winterbottom) and Blue (Derek Jarman).
Chris Fujiwara said he was "delighted" to be bringing the it back. “The award has been an integral part of the Festival for years; it has seen some inspirational filmmakers enjoy its benefits and is crucial to the Festival’s creative vision.”
Shane Meadows, Michael Powell Award winner and a regular guest of the EIFF, said The Michael Powell Award provides "recognition and profile".
"The Award has deep significance to me personally as my film-making idol is Martin Scorsese and it so happens that in turn, his is Michael Powell. I was aware of it from the beginning when I launched Small Time at Edinburgh in 1996 and it was a real honour to receive the Award in 2008 for Somers Town. The award can be a major boost to a film-maker's profile and I'm delighted to hear of its re-instatement at EIFF for 2012.”