It was one of the funniest and most light-hearted films in the Festival and, the next day, here I am sitting in the Sheraton Hotel discussing Nitschke and Proust with the film's two directors, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. Little Miss Sunshine sweeps to the top of the Audience Award poll today after only one showing. We chase some philosophical dreamweaving, then come back down to earth as I ask if the British censors were right to slap a 15 certificate on it, and whether Jonathan wears the same hat in all the photos. Valerie believes it should be the parents' choice.
A quick dash across the road, and the good-and-the-great (we hope) are settling in as the new Jury of the 60th Edinburgh International Film Festival, getting ready to meet their critics. I could happily talk to Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders fame) or Danish Director Lone Scherfig, all day, but my question concerning passion for the movies was eloquently answered by all five jury members, including chairman John Hurt, director Michael Caton-Jones, and author John Banville.
Chrissie Hynde, who projects so much passion on stage as a rock star, says: "I like films that don't make me run out of the cinema in the first five minutes... I like to get a sense of humanity, that's what really blows my skirt up!" John Banville likes films with a wide appeal - "I trust the public's taste - I'm not a great democrat but I am when it comes to films - I don't like films that take themselves too seriously!" Michael Caton-Jones waxes lyrical: "They are an emotional medium - they're there to move your emotions one way or the other: to have your brain stopped!" Sherfig focussed on the trust she places in people making the film. "I hope the people behind the film understand me, my need to be entertained, my worries." She also made an interesting comment about 'feelings recognised' and 'feelings inspired', suggesting perhaps a two way process (?) or a difference between what you feel at the time and what you are later inspired to feel. John Hurt expresses a different view as an actor - does the film stand a chance of working on the level it is meant to work on? This veteran of sci-fi movies also gives the impression that science fiction, surprisingly, is not his favourite genre when it comes to watching a film for pleasure.
(My mind is also having fun tracing some degrees of separation - Scherfig and Hurt have both worked on back-to-basics Dogme95 films, Caton-Jones and Hurt worked on Shooting Dogs together - Scherfig shot a film in Scotland, Chrissie Hynde has lived in South Queensferry, while Caton-Jones hails from Broxburn, both just outside Edinburgh...)
Hurt, once said "I've always felt, and I think I'm qualified to say so because I've won a few awards, that it's a terrible shame to put something in competition with something else to be able to sell something... confronted with films like Brokeback Mountain and Capote and the Johnny Cash movie, Walk the Line, you can't pit one against the other. Films are not made to be competitive in that sense." Hmmmmm... let's see how your Jury pit the Festival competition films against each other then, John.
The Jury is ushered away and further questions are unanswered, for the time being. Stefan Krohmer, the director of one of the art house favourites, Summer '04, is rumoured to be around to discuss his film. It tests the knee jerk reaction we have when making moral judgements. But I don't decide quickly enough and get waylaid chatting to a production illustrator (the person who draws the story boards to convey the feel and look of a particular scene when shooting). She has been busy sketching the Jury and other celebrities during the Festival. Then she shows me her 'notes' for a film - a composite picture interweaving different key elements and ideas. "Before movies there were still pictures," she says. "I'm just slowing it down again."
Tonight I want to catch This Film is Not Yet Rated. It's been a day of exchanging ideas and intellectual challenge - what better way to round it off than a documentary about censorship? But the other big news is the announcement of the Best of the Fest, including some of the most controversial scenes you will see - many of these films are shown before they get anywhere near the British Board of Film Classification and the censor's scissors. Sheitan and Next Door in particular push the boat out into waters that are decidedly dangerous.