The Edinburgh International Film Festival got a welcome boost today with the announcement that Disney-Pixar’s feature animation “Brave” will close the 2012 festival. It will be Brave's European premiere.
Set in mythical, medieval Scotland, the mega-budget animation stars a red-mopped, heroine, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, along with comedian Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson, Kevin McKidd, and Julie Waters, among others.
The announcement comes just days after VisitScotland revealed it had joined forces with Disney-Pixar in a campaign which is designed to promote Scottish tourism across the world and bring a boost to the Scottish economy.
The EIFF has had a bumpy ride in recent years. After losing key funding and many of its top staff before last year's festival, a more experimental 2011 programme was received with a chorus of criticism from critics and audiences alike.
Disney-Pixar has had a longtime relationship with the EIFF, premiering big-budget animations such as WALL-E, Ratatouille and, most recently, Toy Story 3D, in Edinburgh. However, Brave, with its overtly Caledonian theme, would seem the most ideally matched Pixar animation yet for the EIFF, as Scottish tourism chiefs have been quick to recognise.
First Minister Alex Salmond even joined new EIFF artistic director Chris Fujiwara, making his first major programming announcement in the role, in promising a "glittering" red-carpet premiere at the close of the 66th EIFF on 30th June.
“I am delighted to announce that Hollywood will roll into town during the Edinburgh International Film Festival when we host the European premiere of Brave," Salmond announced today to tourism specialists at the VisitScotland’s Winning Years Conference in Perth.
"This will present us with an immense opportunity when Scotland will be centre stage in the film with all the tourism and business opportunities this will bring. I fully expect that as the film launches across the world, so will awareness of Scotland increase."
Research indicates that around one in five tourists to Scotland are inspired to visit the country by films and television shows. In 1996, a year after the release of Braveheart (and before that Rob Roy), the Wallace Monument in Stirling saw visitor numbers leap from 40,000 to one million.
Salmond continued: “Brave will be the most high-profile film ever set in, and themed around, Scotland, featuring Scottish stars. We are looking at a film which comes from the award-winning team behind such box office smashes as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Up, and will create global buzz when it is released."
Fujiwara gave a less boosterish message: “We're delighted to host the premiere of Brave and continue the Festival’s long relationship with Disney. Though we are an international film festival, we're mindful that we have a special responsibility to Scotland's cinematic image. It makes perfect sense that this film, which is so strongly tied to the cultural mythology of Scotland and the beauty of the Scottish landscape, and in which Scottish talent has such a significant involvement, should be part of our festival.”
Merida the Brave
The storyline, according to IMDB, goes: "Set in Scotland in a rugged and mythical time, "Brave" features Merida, an aspiring archer and impetuous daughter of royalty. Merida makes a reckless choice that unleashes unintended peril and forces her to spring into action to set things right."
The Scotland of the Brave trailer is of kilted highlanders in rugged highland scenery with mist-licked standing stone circles and ancient forests inhabited by fierce animals. The heroine Merida appears to be a fearless, bow-and-arrow touting, hunter princess.
Following the Edinburgh premiere, the UK launch of Brave will be in August.