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Hannah happy with vintage Festival

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2010 was a vintage year for EIFF, with a raft of fantastic films, great guests and memorable moments. Artistic Director Hannah McGill reveals her favourite moments and identifies some top Festival talent.

You've had a chance to take a bit of a breather Hannah - what are the first thoughts on EIFF 2010?

Hannah McGill: It was a special one for us. I always think that a great Opening NIght and a great Michael Powell Jury somehow set the spirit of the Festival, and we had both of those things in full effect this year - as well as a really amazing set of guests throughout the Festival. The Illusionist was an amazing film to start with and being able to use the Festival Theatre as our venue was just a spectacular bonus. So we felt as if there was real excitement all over the city and beyond as soon as we kicked off, and really it got better and better from there.

Audiences were terrific from the first day of ticket sales and the press was also most copious and enthusiastic. We felt as if a broad and in places quite challenging programme got a really active,
engaged, appreciative response from the audiences. Our Industry programme of events was also really expansive and organised and well-received. We all feel very proud.

There were lots of great guests at this year's Festival. Any memorable encounters?

HM: So many. I should try to avoid complete luvviedom here, but I never quite got over Sir Patrick Stewart speaking to me with his voice... America Ferrera was such a lovely, genuine person... and seeing Ken Russell introduce Savage Messiah was a total honour. David Thewlis, Jason Isaacs and Rhys Ifans were all great fun and really involved, enthused participants in the Festival. The guests from further afield and those who had really incredible production stories were fascinating, such as the teams from Postales, Out of the Ashes and Son of Babylon. Having filmmakers back who've been with us before is always lovely too, and it was great to see people like Rona Mark, Zach Clark and Ryan Denmark back with their new films. Actually it would be easier to list the encounters that weren't fun. And I'm not going to do that, so there!

Each year there are a lot of films that do really well critically and commercially on the back of their EIFF appearance. What are your hot tips for this year?

HM: There was broad consensus about Monsters and Winter's Bone being standouts, and I have no doubt that Debra Granik and Gareth Edwards are filmmakers from whom we will see a great deal more. Also Ryan Piers Williams, who made The Dry Land. The Illusionist is sure to win the worldwide acclaim that it deserves. On the documentary side, Restrepo is completely extraordinary, as is The Oath. On a personal level, I can't wait to see the next work from the directors of The Mouth of the Wolf and Girl with Black Balloons, to name just two.

Of course, Edinburgh is buzzing at the moment with our fellow Festivals. Now that you have a few moments to spare, what are you likely to make a bee-line for?

HM: I am very bad for last-minute planning, I'm afraid. I tend to hang around with my ears open looking for recommendations, which is a risky policy in ticket-booking terms, I know. But I do know I will be seeing the National Theatre of Scotland's Beautiful Burnout, and Daniel Kitson's show, It's Always Right Now, Until it's Later. And I will be hanging out at the Book Festival stalking writers like Joyce Carol Oates and David Nicholls and Jake Arnott and Will Self. Now that our Festival is not in August, I love August.

Post-August, you'll be starting the annual journey of discovery for EIFF 2011. What's your first stop?

HM: It has begun. Diane has already been off to the New Horizons fest in Wroclaw, Poland. I am staying in Edinburgh for August but will be representing at Toronto in September - where our Features Scotland participating producers will also undertake the next leg of their training work with us.

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  • archie carruthers Saturday 14th August, 2010 / 11:46 GMT

    Most enjoyable article, thank you.
    'I never quite got over Sir Patrick Stewart speaking to me with his voice...' Very funny... perhaps slightly easier to get over than when he was speaking with his elbow...

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