Edinburgh International Film Festival audience up

Ken Hay has welcomed the increase in audience numbers
Ken Hay has welcomed the increase in audience numbers
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THE 2013 Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has enjoyed a blockbuster season, with a big rise in audience numbers.

Organisers revealed around 44,000 people flocked to the 67th EIFF – up ten per cent on 2012 – and they have called for the Capital to boost investment to attract top stars and movies in the future.

This year’s 146-film programme boasted 14 world premieres and was promoted by celebrities including Karen Gillan, Brian Cox and former tennis player Billie Jean King.

And the Capital could be in line for another film boost as speculation mounts that Edinburgh-set features Filth and Sunshine on Leith – based on Irvine Welsh’s novel and a musical created around the songs of The Proclaimers – would receive glitzy gala premieres in the city later this year.

Hailing the figures as 
evidence of the festival’s wide-ranging appeal, chief executive Ken Hay said: “Clearly there’s a good base level of demand for a wide variety of film in 
Edinburgh.

“We’ve always been successful in encouraging audiences to go for the obvious and some of the less obvious films. Online audience interaction has gone through the roof this year.”

Experimental documentary Leviathan, described as an “impressionistic study” of a fishing trawler at work, won the festival’s Michael Powell Award for best British film. Audiences at Sunday’s closing night gala also enjoyed Glasgow-set romcom Not Another Happy Ending, which featured former Doctor Who star Karen Gillan in the lead role.

Improved audience figures confirm the festival is recovering from 2011’s drop in attendance, as well as the loss of UK Film Council funding in 2010.

Mr Hay backed EIFF director Chris Fujiwara’s call for help to put the event on a “stable financial footing”.

He said: “Obviously, we would always like more funding and there are lots of conversations that we need to have with a wide range of partners who we hope will back our ambitions.”

News of the festival’s growth was hailed by city promoters, who said efforts to make Edinburgh a centre of film were surging ahead.

Rosie Ellison, of Edinburgh Film Focus, revealed a drive for homes and workplaces to be made available to incoming production crews had been a success. She said: “We have over 2000 individual locations, including farms, airports, castles and about 500 private homes, on our books. It’s going well but we never have enough – the sky is the limit for us.”