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Festival Diary: Edinburgh International Film Festival (Part Three)

Freelance writer James Stewart finds inspiration at Edinburgh's 69th Film Festival

The Edinburgh International Film Festival cares deeply about the industry it serves and provides opportunities for discussion, workshops, one to one meetings and networking for established talent and emerging filmmakers.  The hub for all of this industry action is the Traverse Theatre, an always inspiring space in Edinburgh and a haven for new writing throughout the year. For the two weeks of the festival it becomes the Delegate Centre, hosting events ranging from karaoke nights to a two day focus on the latest industry thinking on film distribution, Distribution Rewired.

One particularly enlightening event that I attended was Crossing the Divide, a panel discussion around film and television. It highlighted many differences between the environments of the big and small screens but also explained the necessity of working in both to maintain a healthy career. Between them the panel had a huge range of experience; writing and directing critically acclaimed shorts, script editing long-running soap operas, adapting novels to feature films and of course working in the television industry in the UK, the US and Australia. Each member of the panel shared information through anecdotes, advice and insight. It was clear that they all wanted to help nurture those who seek to follow them into the industry.

Inspiration has been thrust upon me many other times this week. I saw the huge variety that modern British animation has to offer in 28 shorts over two 90 minute showings for the McLaren Award for New British Animation. It seems I was not the only one who felt their creative urges stirring, given what I overheard behind me at the second screening,“Just reading the titles makes me want to make stuff.” Here is a trailer for one of my particular favourites, Stems by Ainslie Henderson.

Further inspiration came from Misery Loves Comedy – comedy heroes of mine talking about comedy. Director Kevin Pollak, better known as an actor but having had a long stand up career, is trying to find out why his friends and colleagues do comedy and whether you need to be miserable to be funny. Pollak’s long career makes for an impressive roster of interviewees and though much of the subject matter has been covered before, there is fascinating insight thanks to the honesty of the answers. Pollak has also done well to keep a tight focus and a running time of 90 minutes, there could have been a six part series with a diluted message in less ruthless hands.

I must also recommend Tu Dors Nicole, a low-fi comedy from Quebec. Easy comparisons can be made to Frances Ha; it could be labelled mumblecore, it is focused on a woman finding her place in the world and it is in black and white. However, to my mind Tu Dors Nicole is a more satisfying film.

Though it has only been three days since the last article, I have experienced much more than I can cover here. This festival is a whirlwind of creativity and it’s delightful to be swept up by it.

Part One and Part Two of this Festival Diary from the Edinburgh International Film Festival is available. If you want to follow more happenings during the last days of the festival you can check out James’ Twitter – @filmboyslim. The fourth and final installment of this diary will be online soon.

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