Questions are being asked this week about the decision of the Edinburgh International Film Festival not to screen any films this year.
According to recent press releases, this year’s event will steer clear of glitzy premiers and star studded parties in favour of a more organic approach.
The opening gala is to consist of gathering film enthusiasts at random around a laptop in Starbucks to watch the top YouTube videos of the week. They will then get to express their feelings by hitting the ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ buttons provided, neatly dispensing with any need for long winded, fatuous dissections of what has just been witnessed.
And instead of getting special deals for buying multiple tickets for film screenings, this year punters will get to be part of the film making process as extras in EIFF: The Movie.
“Films are ultimately pretty dull, aren’t they?” new festival director A.N. Orstralian told the media at EIFF’s launch.
“What’s really interesting for the public is the immediacy of the film making process. So rather than getting bogged down by the end product, this year we thought, ‘why not get people involved in the excitement of filming themselves?’”
“Ordinarily you have to wait for the DVD to come out with that disc of special extras before you can witness the magic of the crew marking up a set in different colours of leccy tape, or to find out that a particular sound effect was made using just a cheese grater and a baby rabbit. But with this year’s festival you get to live through the entire process, as an extra in the film of the film festival.”
If the director is to be believed, there are up to three other positives to this radical approach. One by-product is that in removing the need for the involvement of cinemas, the festival can branch out to countless other venues across the city – including Edinburgh University’s Teviot Building which, prior to this, was famous only for its disconcertingly sticky floor.
Teviot will host several art installations as part of the festival, including one entitled ‘a shelf of DVDs under a spotlight in an otherwise white and empty room.’
“It symbolizes the fact that in order to enjoy a film, yeah? You don’t actually have to watch a film?” artist Jason De Grunier has stated on his blog.
Sage words indeed.
But what of the public reaction to the changes?
“I think it’s a great idea,” gushed PR guru Crinoline McKendry, who cites her favourite film as Pokemon 5: Latios and Latias. “So innovative and now, y’know? I heard that on one of the days they’re going to use a twitter hashtag to write the script for a crime thriller which they’ll actually film as and when the lines come up on the feed. And they’re not using professional actors, because that wouldn’t feel authentic – they’re bussing in an amateur dramatics group from Auchtermuchty. Brilliant.”
Other film fans were less convinced.
“It’s going to be awful,” said Jimothy Ombudsman-Smythe, who uses the money he earns as a labourer on a building site to pay for his Cineworld movie card. “Nae films in a film festival? It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Your FACE doesn’t make any sense,” the festival director replied, when we put this complaint to him.
Then he ran away, giggling like a schoolchild.
It seems that the jury is out, and at the end of the day when all is said and done, only time will tell whether the gamble will pay off at the end of the road when the chickens come home to roost.