Friday has to be one of my favourite days at EIFF.
It began with Superhero Me at the Cameo – a.k.a. the comfiest cinema in the universe. Enveloped in its cozy red seats, we were swept away on a magical journey of cheap spandex, a novice superhero named SOS, and a network of eccentrics. Superhero Me is a documentary from Steve Sale, a first-time filmmaker who wondered – “Long before Kick-Ass!” – what it would be like to become a superhero. Quickly taking action, he shot his forays into real life comic book filmmaking on home video equipment, camera phones, and whatever else he could get his hands on. It’s an enjoyable romp, with a poignant message to be found in later scenes with an Orlando-based superhero named Master Legend. Unfortunately it was ill-projected, so we missed the subtitles while he spoke with an Italian vigilante and some other details. Not amazing, but certainly enjoyable.
After getting some work done(!) I met up with a friend from home and we returned to the Cameo for Mai Mai Miracle. Directed by Sunao Katabuchi, once assistant to Hayao Miyazaki, it’s an autobiographical anime with Studio Ghibli flavour. Beautifully drawn, it has some sweet characters but does not quite develop into anything more than a parochial childhood tale.
Late that evening I caught the UK premiere of Get Low. Starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray, it’s the directorial debut of cinematographer Aaron Schneider. Equal parts real-life legend and folk tale, it’s the story of a Southern hermit who threw his own funeral party. Set in 1930s Tennessee, the film explores what might inspire a man to do such a thing. Duvall is excellent as the misunderstood and curmudgeonly Felix Bush. Bill Murray provides comic relief in a strong performance as Frank Quinn, while Lucas Black makes a great appearance as his young protégé. Beautifully shot with excellent performances, it’s a solid, enjoyable picture. Aaron Schnieder also appeared for a Q&A to discuss working with Duvall and Murray.
After a spot of bowling, some friends and I made our way to the Honeymooner party. Star of the film Gerard Kearns was in attendance – you’ll recognise him as Ian Gallagher from Shameless. It was an interesting night to say the least, and perhaps the less that is said, the better. Let’s just say the brandy cocktails were a bit of a knock-out.
On Saturday morning, Tilda Swinton and Mark Cousins’ flash mob took place, where they danced to Laurel and Hardy’s Way Out West ditty. Shortly afterwards, their event and screening took place. The 8 1/2 Foundation was founded by Mark and Tilda as a project that encourages children to celebrate cinema by way of a new kind of birthday – their 8 1/2th. The event began with Mark, Tilda, and a group of friends dancing around Filmhouse 1 with signs, before waving a flag with “The State of Cinema” splashed across it while a spotlight raced around the room. Quite disorienting, but everyone involved had a blast.
It’s rather a cool venture. By inviting children to celebrate film, it also encourages an active involvement from schools and clubs to become members and discover all kinds of films to which children might never have been introduced. The event rounded off with a screening of Jafar Panahi’s The White Balloon.
It was a quiet evening, for which I was thankful, as it was soon time to make our way to the closing night party! It was a fantastic night at the Caves in Edinburgh, a maze of a venue. I spotted Brian Cox (cutting in line right in front of me, the cheek!) and Jonathan Ames, writer of The Extra Man. I also spoke briefly to Morag McKinnon, director of Donkeys, who said that she had been approached by a buyer, so keep an eye out!
A brilliant night was had all round.
As predicted, Edinburgh was a ghost town on Sunday. The combination of the usual Sunday silence around the cinematic triangle (locals have a less PG name for the area) and the departure of delegates made the festival feel truly over.
The delegate centre was a sight to behold, and pretty much summed up how I felt after almost 2 weeks of hard festing. There were boxes of magazines all around, the lights were dimmed, and there were people strewn across couches, curled up on chairs, and falling asleep into their own cupped hands.
After lunch, I decided to catch one last film. The last day of EIFF is second-chance Sunday, when the picks for Best of the Fest are screened. I caught Hotel Atlantico, a Brazillian film by Suzana Amarel. If you’ve been reading about ‘Slow Cinema’ in Sight and Sound lately, you’ll know the type. It’s the story of a solitary alcoholic actor traveling through the south of Brazil. The meandering storyline involves all sorts of absurd situations and human relations. I was dozing off at the beginning, then it became somewhat more engaging through the middle and downright strange towards the end.
After an evening of packing and trying not to collapse in a heap, I rounded off my festival with a party at the delegate centre followed by a few hours at the Blue Blazer (the unofficial pub of the fest). It was a lovely way to finish up, and after some solemn goodbyes it was time to shuttle back home to Glasgow.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my EIFF adventures as much as I’ve enjoyed having them.
Check back soon for my interview with Pixar animators Bobby Podesta and Mike Venturini!