EIFF 2012: Chris Fujiwara rings in the changes

Let’s be honest – last year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival was a mockery. Not only was there a noticeable lack of direction (for some reason the board thought it could function without the appointment of a permanent Artistic Director), but there was also the feeling that the programme had been half-heartedly stitched together at the last minute with no clear vision or structure.

This year, it’s all change once again. There’s a new Artistic Director in the form of film critic, lecturer and author Chris Fujiwara, Organic Marketing have come on board at the official press team and the awards, which were thrown out by last year’s organiser James Mulligan, have been reinstated. All this points towards a board who have listened to audience and critics’ lambasting of last year’s festival.

Keen to set things right, they’ve made a promising start. Not only is Fujiwara an enthusiastic lover of film, but he also seems like an honest man – one that has plenty of credentials to organise a festival that reflects its vision: to discover and promote the very best in independent cinema. He made it clear in a press release last month that he’ll be working to his own script, and not trying to make up for past mistakes.

It certainly seems like this year’s festival could put Edinburgh back on the map. With four months to go until the 66th edition kicks off on June 20, Fujiwara has already shown he’s committed to the cause, not only by the decisions outlined above, but by the fact he’s been hard at work scouting various festivals – Berlinale and Rotterdam included – to ensure the as-yet-announced budget doesn’t stop him putting on a show-stopping instalment of the world’s oldest continuously running film festival.

It’s hard at this point, when nothing much has been said about the vision for this year’s festival, what to expect. But, with only three months left until the official programme is announced (smaller announcements are expected before too long), and with Glasgow Film Festival fast-becoming one of the UK’s hottest film events, it’ll take some kind of miracle for the Edinburgh International Film Festival to reclaim the spark it once had after what happened last year.

Still, it’s entirely possible for bridges to be mended and the buzz to be rediscovered – let’s keep our fingers and toes crossed that come June, Edinburgh once again has a film festival to be proud of.

The 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place from 20 June-1 July, 2012. For more of our EIFF 2012 coverage, simply follow this link.

Jamie Neish