Chris' Daily Diary 9: The Troubles

It's Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara's final daily diary from EIFF 2012. He's feeling a little troubled...

Two outstanding films in our Michael Powell Award Competition had EIFF screenings recently.

For the World Premiere of Berberian Sound Studio, the astounding new film by Peter Strickland (Katalin Varga), Peter was joined on-stage with members of his international cast, led by Toby Jones. I’m a fan of Toby’s father, the beautiful actor Freddie Jones (Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed), so I was thrilled to share a stage with Toby to moderate the Q&A. In Berberian Sound Studio, which is set in Italy in the 1970s, sound technicians working on a horror movie crush and chop up vegetables to create sound effects for grisly scnes (which we, the audience, never see). From my pre-show research I’d learned that Peter was a vegetarian and a member of an avant-garde group called The Sonic Catering Band. He confirmed these facts during the Q&A, adding that to do the foley effects for the many shots of vegetable abuse in Berberian Sound Studio, they actually used pieces of meat. “It’s almost too meta for me,” he quipped.

Director James Marsh had come to EIFF several times in the past, most recently with Man on Wire and Project Nim. For the UK premiere of Shadow Dancer, which concerns the relationship between a female IRA member (Andrea Riseborough) and the MI5 agent (Clive Owen) who forces her to turn informant, James shared the stage with the screenwriter, Tom Bradby. Tom’s experiences covering events in Ireland during the Troubles provided the material for the novel on which the moving and suspenseful film is based. Tom, who was apparently an accommodating collaborator on the film, submitting without protest to a rigorous condensation of his novel, publicly volunteered the opinion that James’s film is better than the book!

As an ignorant American I hadn’t been sure whether the term “the Troubles” might not be considered ideologically loaded, so in describing Shadow Dancer to people I’d tended to use locutions like “it’s set in Belfast in the early 1990s.” Chatting outside Filmhouse after the Q&A, Tom assured me it was perfectly OK to say “the Troubles” and explained that the term, though probably of British origin, had been appropriated “in an ironic way” by the IRA themselves. So… I am slowly learning…


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  • Bruce Laing Saturday 30th June, 2012 / 11:54 GMT

    Both were great films, glad I do not have to select the winner for the award.

    Go and watch them if you get the chance.

    Q&A was great (though Peter never did tell us was he had for his meal as he said he would at the start of the screening).

    Plus, Chris 'Mighty' Fujiwara, there was no need to apologise to me at the end of the Q&A for assuming I had asked a question before and looked elsewhere. (it was going to be a daft question anyway - 'How did Peter's meal sound like?')
  • Nicola Balkind Sunday 1st July, 2012 / 13:15 GMT

    Thanks for getting in touch, Bruce! Glad you enjoyed the films.
  • Frazer Caird Monday 2nd July, 2012 / 16:11 GMT

    Thanks for the good work with regard to the festival Chris. Thoroughly enjoyed it. As always I reviewed the films I caught and posted them on IMDb: