Another day and another festival finishes, closing its doors forever on its August rendezvous with the Edinburgh Fringe, Book, and other arts festivals. The impending rest gives me pause to contemplate the move to June for next year - which has not been without criticism.
One film festival hound, who spends most of her time travelling the globe to film festivals, told me she would miss the opportunity to network with film-related events at the Book Festival. And an article in Edinburgh's Evening News reported growing local criticism of the move claiming it "downgrades the festival city at this time of year..." and that, "It seems to be a move imposed by bureaucrats and strategists rather than those with a real passion for the arts in general, and film in particular."
But the move has been in the wind for a long time with solid support from people involved in the Film Festival. Patron Sir Sean Connery talks about finding, "a higher status and an individual identity to film culture." So what are the arguments?
Any film festival is at the mercy of what it can get. There's an inevitable ranking, and top festivals more easily attract top films. But a second problem is avoiding competition for fiercely sought after titles (and audiences). Edinburgh is still carving its niche as far as being a major player is concerned.
In January, Sundance launches spring and summer titles. Berlin plays a similar role in February, providing a European launching pad. Cannes, the biggest showcase of them all, celebrates in May. Locarno, Montreal and Venice all demand attention in August, and carry much more clout than Edinburgh. And Toronto, a major festival for autumn art-house and Academy Award contenders, is just around the corner in September. (Films successfully migrating from Edinburgh to Toronto include The Man From London, The Counterfeiters, Home Song Stories, Les Chansons D'amour, Control, Ex Drummer, Paranoid Park, and XXY.) So if you were picking a date for an up-and-coming Festival, June is a pretty good option to avoid clashes. August is maybe one of the worst. That's even before organisers look at the difficulty for filmmakers and audiences to find August Edinburgh accommodation or to get about the city without the delays of a population doubled.
As a filmgoer, it will be much easier for me. Travelling takes half the time and a greater number of people will be dedicated filmgoers rather than just there for Edinburgh arts in general. It might not seem to be in the short-term interests of the city, but the decision has been made by people who know the festival industry and with a passion for film. It will bring added business to Edinburgh in the short term as 400 filmmakers (on top of audiences) will be able to do business more easily. And a higher profile film festival will bring better films, more celebrities, and lasting long-term benefits.
My final day at the festival is a relaxing one. I've seen more than 40 films. The last two today have already been covered by colleagues so I can just chill out. The closing night movie, 2 Days in Paris, is sold out, audiences paying a premium on the basis of it being a Closing Night Gala. I wasn't overly impressed with the choice and headed down to the Filmhouse afterwards for some Russian horror in the shape of Day Watch. The filmgoers who weren't already getting ready for partying were looking a bit dazed. It has taken over our lives for 24hrs and 11 days.
Eyeforfilm can return to normal. Hopefully we've done our bit by giving you a fresh look at the many films over the Festival. The awards are announced. Congratulations to Control on its double win, XXY and Billy The Kid. And congratulations to audiences who, at the last minute, chose the standard-bearing We Are Together over the hot favourite featuring a fat-footed Rat. You can read all about the award winners and what the juries saidhere.
Time for this Movie Mole to hibernate . . .