Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011 - James Mullighan interview

This article is from 2011

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011 - James Mullighan interview

With just under a month to go, the new EIFF director tell us his plans

So how’s it going James?

Great – it’s been a busy time for us and we are hugely excited to be finalising the festival programme over the next few weeks.

What’s the master plan for EIFF 2011?

To encourage people from all over Edinburgh and beyond to discover the powerful medium of film in new and interesting ways. Our whole team is working hard to put on a show that will inspire audiences of all ages and tastes in its diversity, with a world class programme of global film at its heart.

We are also working on a series of new creative collaborations to offer EIFF audiences new and unique experiences, opening up a vast new landscape of possibility ... all will be revealed!

Is there anything confirmed yet that you can tell us about?

We are programming a whole array of films - from blockbusters to documentaries and alternative independent features to animations, music videos, commercial promos, installations and artists’ film and video. There will also be thought-provoking film and discussion events and inventive approaches to using film as a way of exploring the fabric of this beautiful city.

Can you tell us a little bit about your own background.

I was previously Creative Director of Shooting People, the international network of independent filmmakers that saw me based in London and before that was producer of Resfest. I have also worked in the music industry and as an arts journalist.

How did you come to be involved with this year’s EIFF?

With Shooting People I was involved with EIFF under a number of guises, and it’s always been one of my most-loved festivals. I was recruited by Gavin Miller as Director of EIFF, CEO at the Centre for the Moving Image , following the organisations restructure. It’s a dream job.

What kind of a budget are you working with for this year’s festival?

In this tightened time all arts organisations are suffering from cuts, and as documented last year our budget is smaller than in 2010. However, what we do have is still large enough to put on a big noisy show that people will enjoy. We are also talking to a number of brands who are hugely excited by the revitalised festival model, such as Nokia with whom we recently announced a partnership.

The Scotsman recently reported that Tilda Swinton and Mark Cousins walked away from the festival. What’s the real story?

We have been extremely lucky to have Mark Cousins, Lynda Myles and Tilda Swinton involved to varying degrees in an advisory capacity. Mark has led this process and, as planned, a few months ago he handed over a collective creative blueprint of ideas to the team and me. This inspiring document now forms the foundation of the Festival format and programme that we are working hard to deliver this year.

It has been exhilarating working with Mark, Lynda and Tilda, and to have their input - given on a voluntary basis and borne out of their genuine love and passion for the Festival. It was never planned for them to be involved in the ongoing running of the Festival, as has been misreported in some media, nor were they ever appointed as curators, which we attempted to make clear on several occasions.

With the blueprint in place, they have now stepped back to let us get on with the task of producing the Festival. We remain grateful for their contribution and, of course, Tilda remains a valued Festival Patron.

It’s been announced that some pretty A List collaborators will be involved with the festival this year. Who has confirmed that they are coming?

The contributions of our collaborators has been terrifically various. We aren’t at liberty to say who will come just yet, but most of them won’t. Each of them has contributed in different ways with suggestions for our festival programme. It’s their ideas and imagination which will excite and inspire audiences which we’ve always been hugely excited about.

We’ve heard you will be utilising some unusual venues for screenings and events, can you tell us more please.

We love the idea of the festival spreading its wings across the city and are looking at a few venue options which are sure to surprise and delight.

EIFF 2011 will also take over Teviot as our new festival heart, it’s a roomy building with bag loads of possibility. It will be a place for industry, press and public to mingle, something we have never had before and also gives us a larger capacity for public audiences to attend some industry events and activities for the first time.

Are you feeling stressed?

I do not now, nor have I ever, known the meaning of the word.

Edinburgh aside (obviously), what’s your favourite film festival in the world.

Each festival is distinctive in its nature and personality - I’ve spent most of my time working with UK festivals and really admire the London Short Film Festival’s daring and punk attitude. I also love the Sheffield International Documentary Festival for its thoughtfulness and ideas. If I hadn’t had so much work to do this year I would have been at SXSW, I am hugely looking forward to my first visit to the Telluride Film Festival this year and I love the playful spirit and subtle bizarreness of the Branchage Film Festival in Jersey.

Would you like to do this job again next year?

It’s my hope and plan to be doing this job in Edinburgh for many years to come.

What or who are the biggest influences on you in the way you work?

My father, Barack Obama and Beethoven.

What’s next for you after June?

Planning for the 66th EIFF.

Anything else you would like to add.

Yes! When you are choosing what to come and see at EIFF 2011 don’t look at the programme, look at your free time and come to see whatever is on. We guarantee you will have a great time.

Edinburgh International Film Festival, Wed 15-Sun 26 Jun

Edinburgh International Film Festival

The oldest continually running film festival in the world, the EIFF draws on its prestige to consistently present abundant programmes of new features, documentaries, retrospectives, shorts, panel discussions and educational workshops, with a few high profile premieres thrown in for good measure.


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