Jonathan Melville: Lay the red carpet for EIFF chief

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BIG names and blockbusters. Both of those were missing from last year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, but it looks like they could be on the way back in 2012.

Monday saw the arrival in Edinburgh of Chris Fujiwara, the man drafted in to replace 2011’s failed EIFF director who downsized the number of films and decimated tickets sales as a result.

The decision to dump the red carpet and to leave Cineworld for smaller venues backfired, leaving the Festival with no direction and few supporters.

Announcing that he wants to wipe the slate clean, Fujiwara told me that he wants the EIFF to appeal to anyone and everyone, meaning well-known titles sitting alongside films of which you’ve never heard.

That could mean audiences will see movies like Brave, The Amazing Spider-Man or The Dark Knight Rises before the rest of the UK.

Hopefully it also means that Edinburgh once again becomes a place where a chance is taken on unknown talent, with the opportunity to meet the next Steven Spielberg or Werner Herzog at the Filmhouse bar.

Sadly the EIFF’s budget still isn’t as large as it was, meaning nightly star-studded screenings may not be on the agenda, though we shouldn’t feel too guilty for wanting to spot the odd celeb on Lothian Road.

I’d rather the cash was spent on ensuring a mix of films, guests and events that bring the sort of buzz to the city that we enjoy during the Fringe.

We also need to hear where the organisers see the EIFF heading in the next few years, how it is going to grow and develop.

Still, let’s see what Mr Fujiwara and his team have up their sleeves for 2012 first.


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