“Now there’s a gang of motherfuckers on the bite each night/pretending they’re the flavor of the night…” – The Dwarves.
During the years 1996-2001, the EIFF had as its Director a woman called Lizzie Francke, a middle-class English arty type. Completely unapproachable in conversation unless you were some big star or director, Francke swished around Edinburgh during festival time being self-important and aloof, programming artshit from all corners of the globe. I tried to talk to her a coupla times. She looked either scared – oh my god a common person talking to me – or completely disinterested, and conversation was swift and desultory and monosyllabic. You could get more conversation out of some filmic roadkill rotting at the side of the information superhighway. This woman was in charge. And it wasn’t particularly pleasant.
Anyway. This year saw Francke replaced after five years, which is as long as a festival Director is allowed to subject the city to their technicolor artshit whims. Guy who replaced her is named Shane Danielsen, an Australian. There were reports in local papers that he’d gotten the job through nepotism; after all, he was a friend of Francke’s. How very cozy. He denied this stuff as being ludicrous. Then again, he would, wouldn’t he? As one film writer I know put it: “I couldn’t go to Australia and be running the Film Festival after a year, could I?”
So let’s see. First an English woman and now an Australian man running a Scottish film festival. Does any other film festival have to put up with this kind of anger-making cultural colonialism? Possibly; I dunno. Anyway. Unimportant.
I saw Danielsen on the streets of Edinburgh in the weeks leading up to the festival. I had no real desire or urge to speak to him, although I could have. I stay in East Fountainbridge, which is only a hundred yards or so from both the Cameo and Filmhouse cinemas, where the Festival is held each year, which is sweet when you wanna nip home for a sleep or you can’t be bothered with a film. As happens to me so much more often now that I don’t have to come through from Falkirk and sit for the whole day watching depressing foreign artshit.
Oooooh Graham, how parochial.
Anyway. I first met Danielsen on the first press day of the festival, August 13th, the day before the thing actually kicked off. Talked to him briefly in the foyer of the Filmhouse. Told him that this year’s Festival seemed better than the one of the year before, which I truly kinda-believed at the time. He asked me what I thought the tonal shift had been and I had to say I wasn’t sure, that this was still a somewhat amorphous concept to me. Told him a coupla films I wanted to see, talked to him for a coupla minutes, bye bye.
But if you want a telling wee snapshot of the mindsets of people working at the festival, it’s this. I spoke to Danielsen after coming out of my first film of the festival, a Romanian effort called “Everyday God Kisses Us On The Mouth”. Blacknwhite, sepia-tinted…and really not very good. I’ll review it later on. But I walked out of Filmhouse 2 and made small talk with a coupla the woman behind the press desk in the foyer. Told them I hadn’t really liked the film.
Shane liked it,” purred one of the young Festival Director groupies. Obviously my opinion counted for less than shit here. Like I gave a fuck; I’m more of a psycho fan tic motherfucker than a sycophantic one.
“Well then, Shane obviously likes some crap,” I smiled and walked off boredly. Like I’m gonna allow my filmic tastes to be molded by those of some guy I’ve met for a coupla minutes just because he runs a fucking film festival. Yeah, right. Liking a film is a purely subjective thing, for whatever personal reasons you have, and the way these people unquestioningly follow sheep-like what some random Aussie says nauseates me.
But that’s just me.
(pauses to crack beer)

Posted on September 10, 2002 in Festivals by

If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
Popular Stories from Around the Web

Tell us what you're thinking...

Comments are governed by the Terms of Use of this Site. Click on the "Report Comment" link if you feel a comment is in violation of the Terms of Use, and the comment will be reviewed appropriately.