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Cousins and Swinton Set Blueprint For “Radical Transformation” Of Edinburgh Film Fest

Cousins and Swinton Set Blueprint For "Radical Transformation" Of Edinburgh Film Fest

For its 65th anniversary, the Edinburgh International Film Festival has unveiled a transformative plan via a blueprint shaped by filmmaker/journalist Mark Cousins, actress Tilda Swinton, and a wider artistic team that will be announced later. The result will be “radical new approach to the image and structure” to the festival, which will run in June 2011.

In what the event describes as a “moving away from the traditional concept of ‘film festivals,'” the blueprint utilizes the theme, “All That Heaven Allows.”

“[EIFF] may cease to have a competition section or prizes, and will focus more on inviting a team of guest curators to program their own selection of films or contribute to special themed days within the festival,” an event release stated in describing the new direction. “The festival goers will be encouraged to interact with many bold initiatives to bring the city alive, all of which will be revealed later by Cousins and his artistic team.”

As part of the initiative, the festival has hired James Mullighan to produce the transformation of the festival. Currently Mullighan is Creative Director at Shooting People, an international network of independent filmmakers, with 38,000 members in the UK and US. He oversees all day to day operations and has been responsible for building the business. He has also worked for Sony Classical and Columbia records in Australia, and as a freelance journalist working for a variety of publications including The Scotsman, GQ, Vogue and Rolling Stone. In 2003 he joined the travelling short film festival RESFEST as Producer, UK & Ireland.

“We live in a very fragmented and competitive space and so it becomes much more important to continually refresh, revitalise and re-invent,” commented Gavin Miller, CEO Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), the parent body of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. “I’m both confident and excited with this blueprint that Mark Cousins has shaped, which will deliver a unique and distinctive festival. I am delighted also that James is joining us as the producer and I believe that his years at Shooting People put him in a good position to build on the heritage of Edinburgh International Film Festival as a distinctive cultural force.”

James Mullighan commented: “I am absolutely thrilled to be appointed to this new position at a film festival that I have long admired and supported. It has an incredible history of programming the finest films from all over the world and delivering an exciting and innovative programme to a very faithful and enthused audience. Mark describes it as a Ziggy Stardust moment and I think that’s right. We will announce Mark’s blueprint for the festival in the New Year.”

Cousins and Swinton have been active contributors to the film culture in Scotland in recent years, from their own unique film festivals, including 2009’s A Pilgrimage, to the 8 1/2 Foundation, which gives films to children on their 8 1/2th birthday and kicked off at last year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.

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It sounds pretty woolly if, with just six months to go, they still haven’t decided what’s going on. I’m sure they’re still receiving in submissions – has anyone told those filmmakers? I suppose they’re finding out right now.

Betty Schaefer

PS – S Daniels – if you look at things like Secret Cinema and the wonderful festival that Cousins and Swinton put on in the HIghlands, it is pretty obvious that people want cinema as event these days….not woolly thinking, rather a rather lovely weave…

Betty Schaefer

I think it is inspired – James Mulligan’s great schematic thinking and Mark Cousins and Tilda Swinton’s fantastic vision.

S Daniels

It sounds like the end of an era, replaced by some woolly thinking. Do people go to festivals for events rather than films? And James Mullighan has none of the charisma of Hannah McGill. It all sounds like budgets cuts and poor choices


Congratulations to Edinburgh Film Festival for hiring our brilliant James Mullighan. Shooting People will miss him but we’re already looking forward to hanging out at next year’s Festival and excited to see who’s going to fill James’s shoes. If you are a member of Shooting People and you’d think you could help run the world’s biggest filmmaker network – click here and apply now:

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