Page last updated at 21:56 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 22:56 UK

Moving experience for film festival

By Hannah McGill
Artistic director, Edinburgh International Film Festival

hannah McGill
Hannah McGill said the move to June was not taken lightly

Having run for 61 years alongside the Edinburgh International Festival in the latter part of August, the Film Festival this year takes up a new berth in June.

To change the dates of an event that has occupied the same annual slot for so long is no small practical challenge.

Such a shift is especially seismic for a film festival, which is guided more than any other type of arts event by release patterns decided by the wider industry of which it is a part.

What films are available depends upon what product is approaching, commercial release, and what other film events are pending.

Then there is the risk involved in removing an element from the vast cultural offering of Edinburgh in August.

So, it stands to reason that such an upheaval was not undertaken lightly - and that the projected benefits were judged to considerably outweigh the risk involved.

When EIFF was launched in 1947, it was in specific response to the omission of cinema from the programme of the also newly-established International Festival.

An international film festival was still a new concept; the film industry itself was young, and the events in Cannes and Venice were in their infancy.

Since then, Edinburgh has spawned even more and bigger August events - the Book Festival, the world leader in its field, and of course the phenomenon that is the Fringe.

For the festival to assert itself and obtain the best attendance and the best films it could, a rethink was needed
Hannah McGill

Film festivals, meanwhile, have proliferated to an extraordinary degree, and have evolved into a key element in the sale and promotion of films.

In this changed climate, the Edinburgh International Film Festival faced a struggle in August.

The city itself was gloriously but inescapably overburdened, which presented inevitable difficulties in the housing and supplying of a major film event.

August was a sleepy time for the international film industry, which was anticipating several major autumn events - and quite liable to be on long holidays besides.

For the festival to assert itself and obtain the best attendance and the best films it could, a rethink was needed.

Why shouldn't Edinburgh spread the wealth and be a festival city all the year round?

The move is intended to offer the audience the opportunity to enjoy the Film Festival and Edinburgh itself to the fullest.

It seeks to provide filmmakers and industry professionals with the maximum potential audiences and press space for the promotion of their films.

And it wants to increase the year-round appeal of this most remarkable city.

The response has been strikingly positive from audience and industry alike.

And with excitement building as opening night approaches, we look forward to a whole new era in the EIFF's long history.

The 62nd Edinburgh International Film Festival runs from 18 - 29 June.


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