The still-banned Cockfighter, starring Harry Dean Stanton.
A long day - I haven't met anyone at the Festival yet who admits to having sleep before it's over. Up at 6am writing up interviews and reviews, then off to a press screening to get stuff to you before the films are screened publicly. Back home to hit the keyboard again, then out to another screening, (chatting to another Eye For Film reviewer on the way, and the film's editor on the way out) then back home, and off out tonight to try to meet the Dead Man's Cards cast and crew for a quick interview. On the phone meantime, Soda Pictures kindly email me some production notes for one of the most surreal films in the Festival - Hotel Harabati. The director's comments are interesting but its weirdness is still review-defying (will try to correct that by tonight!)
As film addicts we are often on the side of minimum censorship - at least for adults who make the choice to see a film - but a decision this week by the EIFF in response to the objections raises more questions. It concerns withdrawing a 1974 film from the Retrospectives section. Called 'Cockfighter', it was banned in Britain as it features real fights between cockerels which breach animal cruelty laws. The British Board of Film Classification said: "The film was never edited for classification in the UK because it's called Cockfighter. And if you take out all the cockfighting scenes there's not much left." The film won praise for its central performance by Warren Oates and also starred Harry Dean Stanton. All of which leaves many questions open. I would not go to see it personally as scenes of animal cruelty turn my stomach; but the film is an old one, and films at festivals tend to be seen mostly by film buffs and addicts. The idea of it inciting widespread animal cruelty because of one screening seems dubious.