Gavin Miller, CEO for the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), announced "a radical new approach" for next year's Edinburgh International Film Festival today. The EIFF, which takes place from 15 - 26 June, also announced that James Mullighan will replace EIFF artistic director Hannah McGill to produce the 65th festival's programme.
Mullighan will oversee an "ambitious transformation" of the festival based on a blueprint which has been shaped by EIFF patrons Mark Cousins, Tilda Swinton, and a wider artistic team to be announced.
The EIFF hasn't shied away from taking bold moves in the past - the festival controversially moved from its traditional slot in August to June in 2008. Then artistic director Hannah McGill said it would give the festival more "breathing space" outside of Edinburgh's other festivals.
Cousins, himself a former EIFF artistic director, has experimented with different formats at recent festivals, including this year's Flash mob in Festival Square where people danced to Laurel and Hardy and the Paradise Movie Hall last year.
The EIFF says it plans to move away from the traditional concept of Film Festivals altogether, following Cousins' blueprint with a theme this year of “All That Heaven Allows.”
The film festival may cease to have a competition section or prizes, and will focus more on inviting a team of guest curators to programme their own selection of films or contribute to special themed days within the Festival. Film-goers will be encouraged to interact with "bold initiatives to bring the city alive".
“We live in a very fragmented and competitive space and so it becomes much more important to continually refresh, revitalise and re-invent," said Gavin Miller. "I’m both confident and excited with this blueprint that Mark Cousins has shaped, which will deliver a unique and distinctive festival.”
Many will be relieved that the vacuum at the top appears to have been filled, after former EIFF director Hannah McGill announced her resignation in August. The EIFF has lost key figures this year, including longtime EIFF managing director Ginnie Atkinson who resigned earlier this year and festival chairman Iain Smith who stood down in October. Octogenarian festival patron Sean Connery has also said he would be scaling back his festival appearances.
Mullighan, who has worked closely with filmmakers as Creative Director at indie filmmaking network Shooting People, said he was "absolutely thrilled" to be appointed to the new role with a film festival that "I have long admired and supported."
"It (EIFF) has an incredible history of programming the finest films from all over the world and delivering an exciting and innovative programme to a very faithful and enthused audience. Mark describes it as a Ziggy Stardust moment and I think that’s right,” said Mullighan.
The blueprint for the festival will be announced in the New Year.
Commenting on the initiatives, Caroline Parkinson, Director of Creative Development at Creative Scotland said, “Creative Scotland welcomes the announcement of a team with a strong breadth of experience to take the Edinburgh International Film Festival into the future.”
About James Mullighan
James Mullighan was born in Adelaide, South Australia and moved to the United Kingdom nearly 13 years ago. He worked for Sony Classical and Columbia records in Australia, and as a freelance journalist working for a variety of publications including The Scotsman, GQ, Vogue and Rolling Stone. In 2003 he joined the travelling short film festival RESFEST as Producer, UK & Ireland.
Currently Mullighan is Creative Director at Shooting People, the world’s largest network of independent filmmakers, with 38,000 members in the UK and US. He oversees all day to day operations and has been responsible for building the business.