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Michael plans bigger film festival

Category: Dear Frankie News
Article Date: October 15, 2004 | Publication: Inverness Courier | Author: Editors

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SEVEN Scottish premieres - and a talk by TV film presenter Barry Norman - are among the major attractions at the second Inverness Film Festival being held at Eden Court from 11th15th November at the Eden Court Theatre and the Vue multiplex.

The full programme for this year's event is scheduled to be announced next week, but Michael McDaid, the director of the festival, was able to reveal all but one of the premieres to the Courier.

The opening film, to be screened on Thursday, 11th November will be the curiously titled "I Heart Huckabees" by David O. Russell, whose previous films include "Spanking The Monkey", "Flirting with Disaster" and "Three Kings". It stars Jude Law and Dustin Hoffman (not to mention Isabelle Huppert, Jason Schwartzman and Lily Tomlin), and has been described as an exuberant existential comedy.

"Dear Frankie", written by Andrea Gibb and directed by Shona Auerbach, is a Scottish film that revolves around the dilemma of a mother who has left her abusive husband, but told her young son he is away at sea.

What to do then, when the boy spots that the ship his father is allegedly on is due to dock in Glasgow?

Another Scot, Danny Boyle, directs "Millions", in which two young boys stumble on a quarter of a million pounds from a bank robbery, but have only one week to spend it before the UK goes over entirely to the Euro and the money becomes worthless.

"Garden State" marks the writing and directorial debut of Zach Braff, star of television's "Scrubs", "Criminal" is an American re-make of the Argentine film "Nine Queens" starring Scottish actor Peter Mullen, and "My House in Umbria", set in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on a train, stars Maggie Smith and has a rare noncomedy role for Ronnie Barker.

"We are really delighted to have the first Scottish screening of 'I Heart Huckabees', " Michael declared. "We're still finalising the final night premiere and, if we get the one we want, it is a film that is sure to create a lot of interest in this area!

"Guest lists are still being finalised, but we hope to have quite a few of the directors and actors coming up, " he added. "We also have the 'Audience with Barry Norman' on the Friday night. He has some fantastic stories to tell, and is wonderful at holding a crowd. There are over 20 screenings in all and we have added an extra day this year. We're aiming to provide something that will interest as wide an audience range as possible."

The programme will again include screenings of classic films, a strand which proved more popular than Michael had anticipated last year, given the competition from television, video and DVD.

This year's theme is "Literature and Film", and includes several films based on classic books like Charles Laughton's "The Night of the Hunter", David Lean's "Dr Zhivago" and Cocteau's "La Belle et La Bete", as well as more contemporary offerings like "Trainspotting".

Short films will also feature in the festival, including a series of films made on digital equipment around Scotland, and the latest batch of "Tartan Shorts".

Many of the makers of the films will be around at the festival, and there will also be a number of workshops, including a workshop on short films aimed at younger people, another on animation and one on scriptwriting. It promises to be a strong line-up to build on last year's inaugural event.

Setting up a film festival was not his priority when Michael took up his post at the Eden Court Theatre early in 2002, but evolved gradually from his work in restoring the fortunes of the theatre's Riverside Cinema.

With big plans in hand for the future of the theatre and its cinemas, last year seemed a propitious time to launch the new venture. It proved to be a considerable success "The reason we're having a second one is because it did go well last year, " Michael confirmed. "The feedback we had from audiences was very good - people have been asking when the next one is, which is very encouraging for us.

We had very good attendances as well.

"The festival was new, and we knew we didn't have the clout of the big festivals, but we were very happy with the programme we put together, and the reaction we had to it.

"We are using both the main auditorium for the premieres and the Riverside cinema - and there are some screenings at Vue as well. The Columba Hotel has also come on board this year and will be hosting the festival club.

"We wanted a place in the centre of town where people could get together and meet the festival guests and chat about films with other people involved in the festival or the workshops we're running.

"With Eden Court expanding and the Year of Highland Culture coming up in 2007, we're looking to continue to build the festival gradually each year. We've gone for an extra day this year, and we'll see how that goes. It always has to be a case of testing what audiences want."

Mention of the planned refurbishments at Eden Court raised the question of what will happen to the festival during the planned close down of the building, but Michael feels it may be less adversely affected than most events.

"The festival will carry on, " he promised. "We work closely with Vue anyway, so there will still be options for showing films there, and Eden Court still hope to have the cinema going in some form during that period anyway. Assuming it all happens as planned, we will have two new stateof-the-art cinemas here after the refurbishment and will be ready to do something on a bigger scale for 2007.

"We're aiming to launch the full programme for this year's festival on 18th October and, if not then, certainly that week. We'll have a 16 page brochure available from the theatre again this year and there will also be mini-leaflets and so on. We'e are hoping that we can move on from last year's good start and continue to build the festival."



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