Festival Round-Up/Fatigue



PAPER SOLDIER: Alexey German Jnr’s intense snapshot of the early Russian space programme. Epically visionary style, like Tarkovsky fed through Fellini and dusted with Jancso. Apple juice with Jonathan Romney beforehand. He says it contains his favourite recent subtitle: “Why did you pour soup on that poor dentist’s head?” He’s right, it does.

INUKSHUK: As recommended by Shadowplayer Zach Rosenau, this short animation has a striking graphic style without losing characterisation, and a beautiful sense of cartoon gravity — it’s not the kind of gravity where Wile E Coyote runs off a cliff and stands in mid-air for a second before realising the problem and plummeting to the canyon floor. It’s new. It’s gravity with a graphic logic behind it — a giant whale vaulting overhead draws a little Inuit kid up into the air by force of its large and dark bulk.


DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE FOREST: Mark Cousins has turned a local church hall into a kind of Indian movie temple for a celebration of Bengali cinema. The iconic Sharmila Tagore was there to introduce this movie, which she made forty years ago with Satyajit Ray. Ray phoned up and she said yes without thinking, then realised she was making another feature at the same time. The lesser director had to shoot all her scenes in a studio and match them to his location shots. “He wanted to kill me.” Sharmila is still breathtakingly beautiful.

AN EVENING WITH DON HERZFELDT: Don makes dark and touching and funny short animations. Oh, and terrifying. He’s in town, selling his DVDs. I must have one. You should buy one too. A unique voice! Here’s a single-frame sample.


Now imagine several thousand of these frames, all different. Some only a little different. Some very different. That’s a Don Herzfeldt film.

FOLLOW THE MASTER: Debut feature from occasional Shadowplayer Matt Hulse. Matt and his girlfriend and their dog go for a walk. It doesn’t sound like much of a narrative, but he packs a lot in. An interweaving of documetary/journal with experimental film.

WIDE OPEN SPACES: Edinburgh’s own Ewen Bremner (Spud in TRAINSPOTTING) stars with Ardal O’Hanlon (Dougal in Father Ted) in a comedy by Ted scribe Arthur Mathews. Two debt-ridden losers take work in an Irish famine theme park. A lot of good jokes and performances, although not everything comes together to make this the new WITHNAIL AND I, which is what it ought to be by rights. Truly awesome performance from Don Wycherley though. I didn’t know him before this.

Sat next to my friend Travis Reeves during the screening. Travis did all the gravel in this film. Next to Travis was the chap who did all the wind. And there is a lot of both those things in this film.

John Cobban, who mixed the sound, wants me to say that the sound system at the Cameo Cinema is inadequate.

Bumped into Sarah Bremner, sister of the film’s star. Sarah was art director on my film CRY FOR BOBO, and is a champion forehead wrestler.

Keep seeing Peter McDougall, whose TV work from the ’70s is being retrospected. McDougall has the world’s most powerful moustache. If he were in the Wild West, strong men would build him a temple.


SHIRIN: Abbas Kiarostami’s minimalist film of an audience watching an unseen film, had its own audience rapt with attention, even through to the very end of the end credits. I did wonder if it would be more stimulating to turn around and look at my audience watching his audience, but decided against this.

Get home and try to kill spiders in the bathroom at 00.34am.

Fiona: “What are you doing?”

Me: “Trying to kill spiders in the bathroom.”

Fiona: “We’ve got spiders? More than one?”

Me: “Three.”

Fiona: “Three? Are they breeding?”

Me: “Don’t think so. They’re a bit too far apart.”

13 Responses to “Festival Round-Up/Fatigue”

  1. BEAUTIFUL shot of Edinburgh.

  2. Is Tilda present? (She’s a very busy goddess I know.)

  3. That was last night’s sky, very impressive at 11pm.

    Tilda has her own festival, with Mark Cousins. So I haven’t seen her this time, but a few people like Connery are around whom I also haven’t seen.

  4. Tilda could’t get out of filming commitments to come to EIFF this year.

    And that picture makes Lothian Road almost aluring… dear Shadowplay readers the reality is Quite Different.

  5. Oh, the truth is even more shocking — that’s Great Junction Street! Which is a horrible dump.

  6. Forgive me being unable to recognise Great Junction St but endless days and nights toiling at Festival Bed Mine have made me so effing tired….

  7. Ian Hoey Says:

    If you’re going to make derogatory comments about the Cameo on behalf of anyone, John Cobban in this instance, I suggest you get them to qualify it first.

  8. John could tell you more, and would be delighted to do so, I suspect. Since I haven’t heard Wide Open Spaces at any other venue, I can’t personally attest to what he found lacking. He, of course, knows exactly how he intended the film to sound. If you’d like me to put him in touch with you to discuss the matter, I can probably arrange it.

    I’m not sure if technically I DID make a derogatory comment about the Cameo. I reported that John Cobban wanted me to…

    I like the Cameo, personally, as a place to see films, and I enjoy its history. My parents saw The Seven Samurai there.

  9. Ian Hoey Says:

    Thanks for the offer but I’ve got no need to speak to John about whatever he was alleging. During the Film Festival it’s a not unknown occurrence for the people associated with a film to complain that the cinema screening the film is somehow not doing their feature (or short) justice. The vast majority of the time the problem actually lies with the version of the film in question that has been supplied or the instructions given to the EIFF technical department and has nothing to do with whichever cinema is screening it. If John had an issue with what was being shown he should have brought it up with our and/or the EIFF representatives at the time.

    As for you not technically making a derogatory comment about the Cameo, if I were to put the following comment on the Cameo website –
    “Joe Bloggs wants me to say that the David Cairns is [insert insult here]” – would you think I was completely unassociated from the comment?

  10. Well, I might well ask for clarification, as you have, there’s no question of that. I don’t blame you for taking it personally. I’ve worked with John so I know his expertise and so I felt his comments deserved airing.

    You say that the vast majority of the time the problem is with the prints or the instructions, but that presumably leaves a minority of the time when the sound system/projection is at fault. Perhaps a discussion of the issue could prove which is the case in this instance?

  11. Ian Hoey Says:

    It’s not that I’m taking it personally, it’s my job to respond to any negative publicity regarding the Cameo. I’m sure you’ve got my email address so feel free to send me any comments from John and I’ll take a look at what he has to say.

  12. I’ll ask John for his thoughts.

  13. i`m happy that you wrote about that movie, becus `abbas kiyarostami` is a good filmmaker and i love his movies.
    `10` and `life and nothing` are great. you have too see those. and i think `shirin` is wonderfull and beutifull!

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