Edinburgh International Film Festival: New director pledges ‘bright new future’ with 'world-class' line-ups
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A new figurehead for the revival of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has vowed to lead the event to a “bright new future” a year on from its sudden closure in the face of a financial crisis.
Paul Ridd, who has been unveiled as director of the reborn event, has declared it will focus on “world-class” films and filmmakers on its road to recovery. Mr Ridd, who has been named one of the biggest “rising stars” of the international industry, also promised the EIFF would be launched as “something fresh and different for the global scene” when it returns next August.
The incoming director is charged with building a new business to run the festival, secure future funding and put together a “multi-year” plan for the event, which will celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2027.
His appointment marks the start of a new era for the festival, which was forced to cease trading with immediate effect last autumn after the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), the arts charity that ran the event, went into administration. A one-off edition was staged this August as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.
Mr Ridd is head of acquisitions with the film distribution arm of the UK cinema operator Picturehouse, which runs the historic Cameo in Edinburgh. He has been a programming advisor to both the London Film Festival and the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic in recent years.
Mr Ridd was recognised as a “future leader" in the industry by Screen International magazine two years ago. He said at the time: “I am a film festival junkie. There’s nothing I love more than being on the ground at a festival, chasing after a title and jousting with competitors.”
Mr Ridd will be working with a board led by Andrew Macdonald, one of Scotland’s most successful film producers – whose credits include Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, Sunshine on Leith, 28 Days Later and The Last King of Scotland – on the EIFF’s strategic direction and future vision.
Mr Macdonald has previously pledged the event would be rebuilt as a “champion of cutting-edge filmmaking” and a "beacon" for the global film industry. When he launched the hunt for a new director, he said the event was looking for “a dynamic, entrepreneurial leader with a passion for film and the festival scene”.
Mr Ridd said: “I am beyond thrilled to be joining EIFF at a crucial point in its history. I aim to lead the festival into a bright new future with world-class films, world-class filmmakers and engaged audiences at the heart of everything we do.
"In the coming months I look forward to assembling a team to deliver the festival, working closely with Andrew Macdonald and the new board to launch something fresh and different for the global scene."
Mr Macdonald said: “Paul is passionate about film and has the energy and entrepreneurial skills to lead and champion the new, fresh voice of EIFF. I look forward to supporting him and the new team now and in the future."
A separate charity has been created and a fundraising campaign launched to try to revive the Filmhouse cinema, the long-time home of the EIFF, which was also run by the CMI, by next summer.
A spokeswoman for Filmhouse (Edinburgh) said: “We are very pleased that EIFF have reached a stage of making this crucial appointment and we look forward to working with Paul in the future – if we can open the doors again.”.
Isabel Davis, executive director at Screen Scotland, said: “Congratulations to Paul and the EIFF board on this exciting appointment. We look forward to working with them all as plans develop for 2024.”