Those of you who have a penchant for Hollywood heartthrobs would have done well to get to the premiere of Dear Frankie at the Fountainbridge UGC. Scottish hunk of Tomb Raider fame, Gerry Butler, has returned to his homeland, but is here to promote something quite different from Lara Croft. He was happy to sign autographs for the middle-aged men but was no doubt a little disappointed that there were no screaming teenagers to match Colin Firth's recent appearance.
Miramax, I understand, are very enthusiastic about this movie, as is everyone else in fact. It's not very often that the Americans get excited about a regional British film, but it seems there is something very special in this movie. If nothing else, Dear Frankie is sure to refresh Scotland's tourism industry in the same way in which Braveheart did. This time, at least, we can say that the actors were Scottish.
The people behind Dear Frankie met the media at an afternoon press conference. The closeness of their relationships was particularly striking and it was clear how well the cast and crew get along with one another. It seems that everything has gone their way in making this movie and good vibes are continuing to follow them as they tour film festivals around the world... even the Greenock weather held up during filming and allowed for some stunning cinematography.
"It's just been one phone call after another, with more good news," said Gerry, whose wristband caught particular attention as the Q&A came to a close:
"F*** me, I'm famous" it says, and he was happy to admit that he hasn't taken it off in a while.
At last, I was able to catch up with EIFF's marketing man, Richard Baker, and banter about this year's events and the cost of tickets. It was very interesting to find out about how the festival is run and who works for it. Almost 80% of the 200 strong staff are volunteers and work for perks, such as free cinema tickets: those who are interested in a career in film also use it to strengthen their CV and make contacts. Readers who are wanting to know more about working here next year should make contact sooner rather than later, as the demand for a job at the festival is high.
One of the key principles of the EIFF is to bring the best of World Cinema to the city, rather than becoming a studio-dominated event like Cannes. Edinburgh also doesn't have the money to compete with Cannes. All of the screenings are premieres, either international, UK or Scottish, and it is an unmissable opportunity to get more than the usual trip churned out by Hollywood.
Personally, I feel that its independence is its major strength, but it does make fund-raising a little more difficult and doesn't exactly inspire the biggest red carpet events.
Richard didn't take long to offer a number of reasons why frugal bastards like me should be more appreciative of his hard work. Given that the festival is a registered charity it can't actually make a profit. It all goes into making the following year bigger and better.
He was keen to stress the fact that the attendance is up by 11% on last year, which would suggest that the price increase this year isn't too much of a burden. In comparison to other festivals in the Scottish capital, including the Fringe, the EIFF is cheaper.