Edinburgh Film Festival — blog the first

Greetings from gusty Edinburgh, where this year's Film Festival is kicking into its first full day, and there's a few hangovers from last night's Opening Gala party.

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Greetings from gusty Edinburgh, where this year’s Film Festival is kicking into its first full day, and there’s a few hangovers from last night’s Opening Gala party.

The Hallam Foe party last night was great fun — held in the imposing Edinburgh School of Art, we were treated to a four-song acoustic set from Franz Ferdinand, including a new song, “Catherine Kiss Me”. I even got introduced to Tilda Swinton, who’s huge — six foot, plus some incredible stack heels — and sort of drifted through the proceedings like some flame-haired, Viking goddess.

I have to be honest — I did bail early from the party (an unusual occurence for me), which meant that today I was able to see some films with pretty much a clear head.

One of the great pleasures of film festivals is stumbling across something new, something unexpected, that puts a big smile on your face. Which brings me to Andrew Kotting’s In The Wake Of A Deadad. Kotting’s basically a video artist masquerading as a film maker — his films are kinda motion picture installations, his most famous piece being Gallivant, where he toured the coastline of Britain with his grandmother and disabled daughter.

In a way, In The Wake Of A Deadad is similar to Gallivant. Kotting’s father died in 2000, and by way of celerbrating his life, Kotting had built a giant inflatable effigy of his late father, the idea being to tour places of specific relevance to his and his father’s lives and shoot footage there, of him with this dirigible. Their tour takes in locations in England — the house where Kotting grew up, the beach where he lost his virginity — then spools out for a trip to the Faroe Islands, to meet a hitherto unknown relative, and Mexico, to the Day of the Dead, so his father can be with other dead folks…

It could have been interminable, self-indulgent twaddle, but there’s something very warm and touching about the way Kotting leads this 20 ft effigy of father round the planet. His family — partner, daughter, brothers and their family — all figure, and there’s a lot of genuine human engagement here.

As an indication of the variety of movies here this year, I’ve just got back from seeing Ratatouille — the latest, and typically brilliant movie from animation studio Pixar. Like its predecessors — Toy Story, Monsters Inc, A Bug’s Life — Ratatouille is about the aspirational drive of an anthropomorphised character. In this case, a rural French rat called Remy who wants to be a chef, and ends up in Paris helping a lowly garbage boy become a top chef in a posh restaurant.

As ever with Pixar movies, the level of detail is extraordinary. It’s pretty easy to become blase about the astonishing feats you can achieve these days in animation, but here you get everything from rat fur to the texture on fruit and vegetables rendered with incredibly authenticity. It’s great fun, too, particular credit to Peter O’Toole doing sterling work on the voice of the film’s baddie — food critic Aton Ego.

Typically, there’s so much to do here — I’d even like to get out and see some of the acts on at the comedy festival. If you read our Latitude coverage, you might recall I’m something of a fan of Marcus Brigstock, who’s doing his Morning Edition live in town every day. There’s also a small matter of Nicholas Parsons’ one man show which sounds brilliant. Later this evening though, I’m off to see Uncut contributor Damon Wise interview the magnificent John Waters live on stage.

Should be a blast. I’ll let you know what that was like in tomorrow’s blog.


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