DISPATCHES: EIFF AT SUNDANCE

Edinburgh International Film Festival Senior Programmer Niall Fulton is currently in Park City for Sundance. Watch out for the second half of his day by day blog soon!

Day 1

Walked down to Festival Headquarters in The Marriott Hotel on the memorably named Sidewinder, and picked up our badges, catalogues and the various screening schedules. The crucial document for us is the Press and Industry screenings schedule. Once you have that, you can begin to plan your festival.

Whilst in the Industry Office, I was delighted to bump into the first familiar face of my trip, the effortlessly cool James Faust, Artistic Director of The Dallas International Film Festival, and now, the proud owner of an EIFF Tartan scarf.

The P&I screenings begin immediately, so after quickly working out where I need to be and when, I immediately headed down to The Yarrow Hotel for my first screening of the festival, Jeff Baena's THE LITTLE HOURS, starring Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci.

Day 2

Up at 7 and off to the big tent to queue for a 9am screening. Mastering the queueing system for the P&I screenings is absolutely crucial. You have to be able to estimate how busy a film will be in order to calculate how early you need to get in line. About an hour beforehand seems to be appropriate this year, but accommodating this extra time into your schedule is tricky, as it causes screenings to overlap.

Of course, Trump's inauguration is impossible to avoid today, and is obviously provoking passionate conversation here at the festival. It's absolutely fascinating to be in America as it all unfolds, and it's certainly a day I know I'll never forget.

Went to see Tarik Saleh's THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT at The Yarrow and bumped into Nashen Moodley, Artistic Director of The Sydney Film Festival, and Paul Tonta from Madman Entertainment. We chatted about TRAINSPOTTING 2, disturbing 1971 Australian classic WAKE IN FRIGHT, and the various Sundance 2017 titles we had seen so far.

Unfortunately, a documentary I had intended to see was cancelled at the very last minute, so my day ended with a trip back to the Holiday Village Theatre to see Kirsten Tan's POP AYE.

Day 3

Headed out in heavy snow and made my way down to the Industry Office to collect tickets for screenings tomorrow. Once that was done, I walked round to the Eccles Theatre to see Michael Showalter's THE BIG SICK at 9am, then went back up the road to the big tent, where I queued for an hour to see Gillian Robespierre's LANDLINE in the Holiday Village Cinema at 13:00. Emerged from that at 14:40 and returned immediately to the tent. Queued for an hour, then went straight back into the same screen in Holiday Village to see Marianna Palka's BITCH. After that, back out to the tent once again, and then into Alexandre Moors' THE YELLOW BIRDS, starring Alden Ehrenreich, (about to join the Star Wars universe as the young Han Solo) and Tye Sheridan. Finally, managed to move quickly enough to get into Frankie Fenton's IT'S NOT YET DARK, a documentary focusing on the story of Irish filmmaker Simon Fitzmaurice and his battle with ALS. Fitzmaurice memorably visited EIFF in 2016 with his feature debut MY NAME IS EMILY, the making of which is an integral part of Fenton’s film.

Ran into our friend and sometime EIFF colleague, filmmaker Douglas Cox. He’s here with his short film and has braved the cold and worn his kilt. This patriotic gesture has impressed everybody, (with Douglas even appearing in a Sundance promo on the big screen), and the festival is buzzing with rumours of a large hip flask concealed in his sporran.

Day 4

Off to Eccles for the 9am screening of Taylor Sheridan's WIND RIVER, starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. The film is preceded by footage of yesterday's women's march on Main Street which gets a huge sustained round of applause. Next, I head to the industry office to collect another advance ticket for Wednesday morning's screening. Then, back up to the tent via the local Fresh Market, where I got some lunch to eat as I watched Ry Russo-Young's BEFORE I FALL at 13:00 in the Holiday. Emerged from that and went straight into L.A. TIMES at 15:30. Next up, David Lowery's highly anticipated A GHOST STORY at 18:00. Lowery previously directed Sundance 2013 hit AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS, so the queue for A GHOST STORY was already enormous by the time I arrived. However, I'm pleased to say that my swift queueing calculations proved to be correct, and I managed to get in. Once that had finished, I retired back to the hotel to write up my notes, consult the latest programme updates, submit this blog, and deal with some other exciting EIFF 2017 business via email. Meanwhile, the temperature outside has dropped from very cold to absolutely freezing, and the snow is falling thick and fast. At this rate, I'm going to need a set of skis to get to tomorrow morning's screenings!

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