I made a decision today.
Last year I watched more than 50 Festival films and this year it's 26 so far. But is that the 'experience' (as they say in the anti-piracy ads)?
Instead of going for sheer quantity, gulping up films like a starving man, I want to extract the most from the best. So I'm spending time on exceptional films. Even ones I've seen already. Listening to the Q&As. Talking to directors. Distributors. Artists involved. Or audience members who have been moved. These things are where the Festival offers a unique opportunity. You don't need to be official - just enthuse about your passion for a movie and people will respond.
Take Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman. My chat with the director yesterday convinced me there was much more going on. Coming out of the Q&A, I meet up with someone from the Beeb who has signed it up. Several of us install ourselves in the Filmhouse Bar and discuss/exchange ideas on the film, the techniques used (both cinematic and psychological). It's one of those films where you can take the methodology and use it in your own life.
Then down to the Sheraton to meet with Kevin Ragsdale. Producer for Phantom Love. There is often a point in a Festival where one film, for me, justifies sitting through any number of so-so movies. This year, this was The Movie. It is a difficult (surrealist) film that I have taken a couple of weeks to digest since first viewing. It's kinda entered my subconscious. So when I see it again tonight I feel I know where every detail should be (in order to fit the theory).
Kevin and I discuss a flaw on the print that is being shown tonight. In the levitation scene, the background sound, according to the director, is wrongly edited. A small point. I watch it intensely. Yes, it should be the deep, cosmic thrumming sound, not the rotor blades as well. The significance of every bit of this film is so precise that the tiniest thing out of place can be identified. (Phantom Love is about the transformative inner journey of one woman. It also acts on a subconscious level for any viewer wanting to make the journey.).
This was the hardest film I have reviewed this Festival. I actually went down to Alphabet Video (Edinburgh's specialist rental shop) to hire several old masterpieces and double-check my conclusions. That the film has also reawakened my love of cinema as pure art (rather than just entertainment) also feels good. I'm pleased that films like this can get funded and made. And proud that EIFF shows them.
Intros and Q&As this year so far have been good, if a little uneven. Some of the headliners were well handled. Flying was handled passionately and skilfully. But Phantom Love, of which the EIFF brochure says, "might just be the most beautiful film of the year," is given no more than a brief announcement. Ask me to do it! I'm not the best MC in the world but I can do a competent job.
Late night conversations on the way home about Andy Warhol again, and his 'Screen Tests' films that are on at the Princes Street exhibition (why hasn't the EIFF mentioned them??)
Finally here's the Audience Awards tally so far (the EIFF website is only showing the top five):
- In the Shadow of the Moon
- Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle
- Death Proof
- A Mighty Heart
- Hallam Foe
- The Hottest State
Here's my bedtime offer: If you've been to see Phantom Love and are still struggling with it after reading the review, email me at Eyeforfilm and I'll try to offer what ideas I have.
Coming attractions (Monday 21st): 3.15pm Filmhouse 2: In the Shadow of the Moon. Tickets still left for this hot Audience Award contender. 5.30pm Cineworld: In the Cities. Difficult story highlighting something that cannot be put into words or images. 6.50pm Cineworld: Red Carpet for WAZ (Tom Shankland, Dir, & [actor]Stellan Skarsgard[/actor]) 7.45pm Cineworld: My Life as a Bus Stop. One of my least favourite films (if you don't like my tastes, that should help!) But I have to admit, it is a film you won't forget in a hurry. 9.30pm Cineworld: Death Proof. More divisive than many Tarantino films. Mixes styles stylishly then kicks you where it hurts. Not for the timid! 10.30pm Cameo: Lynch. If you thought his films were thought up on another world, wait until you meet the man . . .