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One eye on the future

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Welcome to Saxon, the setting for director Greg Loftin’s uncompromising urban thriller. EIFF Online talks to Loftin about his stunning debut feature.

Greg Loftin is in bullish form, and for good reason. His debut feature Saxon is getting a World Premiere at this year’s Festival and his partner, Elise Valmorbida, has been recognised as an EIFF Trailblazer, for her tireless work as the film’s producer.

“Elise and I are on such a high,” Loftin says. “It really means something to be selected for Edinburgh. Our investors really wanted us to succeed and really believed in the script. By getting into the Festival I hope we’ve proved that it was worthwhile.”

The film follows ex-con Eddie, who has recently lost an eye to a loan shark, and returns to the eponymous London council estate desperate to secure the funds to save the other.

The put-upon protagonist looks up a former friend, who has scooped a million on a TV quiz show, but runs into old enemies. Loftin sees the film as an original take on a familiar genre.

“I’d say it’s an urban Western. It follows a similar story arc to Unforgiven. It’s about an ex-con trying to go straight. Someone who was formerly an alcoholic, trying to dry-out, who has to go back to his bad old ways in order to redeem himself.”

Loftin was fortunate to snag leading British actor Sean Harris, the star of Outlaw and 24 Hour Party People, for the role of Eddie.

“Sean was absolutely instrumental for me,” he says of the actor. “We sent him the script and had such positive feedback from him. He really loved it. It felt absolutely right and we didn’t audition anyone else. It was Sean or no-one.”

Harris delivers a cracking performance, which is as authentic as the gritty backdrop. Loftin believes that filming on location was a crucial factor in the film’s success.

“The housing estate is like a character in the film. We found this perfect location [the Roundshaw estate in South London] which was due for demolition and there weren’t many people still living there. We were pretty much camping out there.”

The dedication of Loftin and Valmorbida has paid handsome dividends, and the creative couple will have further reason to celebrate when they arrive in Edinburgh for the British Gala screening.

“It’s our 20th anniversary on the day of our World Premiere at the Festival. It’s going to be big day for us.”

Saxon is screening on Wednesday 22 and Friday 24 August at Filmhouse.
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