Day Nine: Tuesday 22nd August

Rude awakening recalls a night with the bouncers from Dead Man's Cards.

by Chris Docker

As the alarm rang this morning my head was still ringing from 5am partying with Dead Man's Cards. The Cameo Bar is the place where the EIFF proves its motto, "Films Worth Talking About" - at least until 3am, when the bartender starts making obscure references to chucking out. Trying Lothian Road (too scruffy), Opal Lounge (shut), it's time to grace Fingers Piano Bar, which seemingly never shuts. Similar advice had been received by stars and producers of the film that knows a thing or two about chucking out - the nightclub bouncers' trip into hell, Dead Man's Cards. (Fortunately, James McMartin and his co-stars had read my review - even better, they liked it.) The staff at Fingers look after us with copious lashings of drink as we exchange phone numbers and staggered off into the night.

"Is it Tuesday today?" I ask the press office sheepishly, trying to set up interviews. Then the Dead Man's Cards troop walk in and sort me out - I'll be there for the interview, guys, honest - no need to kneecap me!

I catch a couple of advance press screenings for films we haven't reviewed yet, then head over to the Filmhouse for the Reel Life about to start. Checking the scoreboard, Clerks II is back in the lead with the Audience Vote, and Little Miss Sunshine in second place. Dead Man's Cards is a new entry.

Screen legend (and Jury Chairman at this year's Festival) John Hurt is in conversation with Shane Danielson for the Reel Life event. They are both incredibly good at working the audience and at one point keep score as to who's getting the most laughs. Hurt wins hands down. Not only an incredibly funny Englishman and articulate about his craft, he has anecdotes of screen icons he has worked with and known as friends, and they include Ridley Scott, John Huston, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Burton and even Orson Welles. He describes Ridley Scott as, "terrified of actors in those days - if you went to ask him a question, he'd go and hide behind a camera."

Talking about the film Alien which they worked on together and the appeal of the creature, he also observes "We hadn't seen anyone treat anything in space so shabbily."

On acting, he says, "You can't be real, but you can create a reality. Fact and truth are not always the same thing - if that were so, where would the poets be?"

2006 also sees the last year that Shane Danielsen heads up EIFF as artistic director. He has brought so much to the festival, but watching his consummate skill and display of encyclopaedic knowledge of film in conversation with the erudite and witty John Hurt, I feel this is one of the moments we might, in future years, look back on and remember how lucky EIFF was to have a man of so many talents.

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