Chris' Daily Diary 2: Lunch with Juries

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Chris welcomes the EIFF competition juries to Edinburgh

I skipped lunch yesterday. Yet from midday to 1:30 I visited three different restaurants. Yesterday was the first full day of EIFF, following opening night on Wednesday, and yesterday was the first day of the most important parts of the festival: the work of our four juries. They’d spent the morning watching their competition films, and they’d have to watch more in the afternoon. So lunch time was the best time for me to welcome them officially and brief them on their duties.

Together with Harriet Warman, our tireless Programme Coordinator, I joined EIFF’s British and International Shorts Juries just as they were gathering at the first restaurant. The three members of our British competition jury – Rita Azevedo Gomes, Edith Bowman and Gerald Peary – were there, together with Erwin Houtenbrink of the International jury (his fellow members, Ewen Bremner and Javier Porta Fouz, were detained by other business). Gerry told us about his chat with Elliott Gould the night before. Rita was still trying to remember the name of the actor in Werner Schroeter’s Palermo oder Wolfsburg who reminded her of Gina Gershon (Killer Joe). Edith came to Rita’s aid with her smartphone: it’s Ida Di Benedetto. What I had to say about the jury work took just a few minutes to tell: the rules and expectations, few in number and simple but also very important, for the awards the juries have to give.

Before lunch was served Harriet and I were off to the next restaurant to meet two of our International Feature Competition jurors, Julietta Sichel and Lav Diaz. The third juror, Elliott Gould, was absent. We were told he wanted to see films all the time and wondered why there were breaks in his schedule. Considering he has to see four competition films a day, I thought this showed some dedication. I hadn’t met Elliott before Opening Night, though we’d spoken on the phone several times. I’ve known Julietta and Lav from many festivals in the past. Three powerful personalities to say the least – I’ll be very interested in watching how this jury gets on together over the next few days.

Our last stop on the jury lunch circuit was with the Michael Powell Award Competition jury: Jim Broadbent, Kiki Sugino and Tiina Lokk. Kiki and Tiina not being native English speakers, I wondered how they had managed at their morning screening of Small Creatures, whose dialogue is spoken in strong Liverpool accents. Apparently Jim had been a great help in clearing up some points in the after-screening discussion. He also showed himself to be exceptionally professional, serious and nice as we talked about the jury’s duties. The perfect jury chairperson. Kiki let me have a bite of her avocado salad, so I finally managed to eat something.

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Chris Fujiwara is the Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

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