EIFF asks you to make a new date in 2008

Film Festival will move to June for more breathing space away from Edinburgh's other events.

by Amber Wilkinson

Edinburgh International Film Festival is to move from its traditional August dates next year.

The festival, which for 60 years has traditionally taken place in the latter part of August, will move to June 18 to 29 in 2008.

It is certainly true that with the expansion of all the other arts festivals - particularly the Fringe - it could be argued that there is almost too much choice for festival-goers during August and a dearth throughout the rest of the year.

EIFF Managing Director Ginnie Atkinson is confident the move will widen the Festival’s audience appeal.

She said: "In recent market research, an overwhelming majority of our audience said they would attend the Film Festival even if it was the only festival on at the time. This gives us the confidence that June will be a success on all fronts.

"The June move also makes it more affordable and practical for film-goers, from both home and abroad, to visit and stay in the city at that time."

The festival's new Artistic Director Hannah McGill has for some time reported to be if not in favour of a move, then certainly to be considering it, saying last year that she had been "buffetted with arguments" about it.

Now, it seems she is a complete convert to the idea.

She said: "It is good news for the Film Festival and the city of Edinburgh. June will give us the breathing space to expand and create our own distinct identity, allowing us to further develop our reputation as one of the world's most innovative, cutting-edge and challenging annual film events. Logistically, a June event is also better placed in the ever-crowded international film festival calendar."

The move will see the festival occupy the slot a month after Cannes - which falls in mid May - and give festival fans a little more breathing space between it and the Venice Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival, which run across the first weeks of September.

The downside, however, will be that it will almost certainly find it tough to schedule films that have screened in Cannes, as it has in the past. Plus, some might argue that attracting talent to the city outside of the other major festival's may prove a hurdle.

However, the step has been welcomed by the many in the Scots film community.

Elder statesman Sean Connery said: "Changing the dates of the Film Festival will create space for a modern, forward-thinking event that offers higher status and an individual identity to film culture.

"An enhanced Film Festival is a key component in long-term plans to create an Edinburgh hub for the Scottish, UK and international industry.

"It will also ensure that a wider local and global community gets the chance to participate in, and enjoy, what we have to offer here. In the words of Sean Penn: tremendous films, tremendous festival, beautiful city."

EIFF Patron Tilda Swinton added: Filmmakers all over the globe – even if they have never been here – value EIFF as a proper adventure, with an identity of its own, invoking a spirit of the new and altogether a reputation for downright fun.

"Coming in June, after Cannes and before the Venice/Toronto logjam, a conversational / discovery based, non-competitive festival could only enhance this holiday atmosphere for the film community."

And even the big studio guns support the move.

Robert Mitchell, MD and SVP, The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK, distributors of this year’s Opening Night Film, Hallam Foe commented; "This new date opens a real opportunity for the EIFF to stand alone in a crowded festival market, to further develop its identity on an international scale and to continue to grow its commitment to showcasing international premieres and a varied and exciting programme of events."

One thing is for sure, whenever the Festival happens, Eye For Film will be onhand to bring you the most comprehensive coverage on the net.

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