Throwback Thursday: Martin Scorsese at EIFF, 1975 - 1989

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In the run-up to our 68th edition, the EIFF team has been busy trawling the archives to bring out some gems and bring you more of the Festival's history. This week, we're looking at the work of Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese.

Who's that knocking at our door? Only the multi award-winning director and founder of the World Cinema Foundation, Martin Scorsese!

This week, Wolf of Wall Street closes out its fourth week at the top of the UK Box Office. What better time to have a peek into the archives to reflect on Martin Scorsese's presence at the Edinburgh International Film Festival?

Although he hasn't appeared at EIFF for 25 long years, Scorsese has a storied history at the Festival. In 2012, his long-time collaborator and legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker visited and, during a panel, announced on behalf of herself and Marty that "film is dead". Fortunately for us, she was referring to the medium and not the entire industry – and Scorsese is still one of the most lauded directors working today. So let's take a leisurely stroll through our personal archive of the work of Mr Scorsese.

EIFF's history with the director began in 1975 with a complete retrospective of his work so far. These included the likes of  Who's That Knocking at My Door? (1967), the documentary Street Scenes (1970), Boxcar Bertha (1972), Mean Streets (1973) and the big Gala screening of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974).

Alongside his feature-length films, the retrospective also included a series of shorts including It's Not Just You, Murray! (1964), The Big Shave (1968), and another documentary short called Italianamerican, also known as My Mother and Father (1974).

One year later, in 1976, EIFF hosted a Gala screening of Taxi Driver. The Scotsman's film critic of the day, Nicholas Wapshott, said that Scorsese "is now masterful at emphasising the anarchic quality of New York, linking with his autobiographical instinct, with his clever ability as a filmmaker."

Not long after screening one of his best-known films, Scosese was programmed at EIFF once again with the 1978 Opening Night Gala screening of The Last Waltz. The press booklet cover from the EIFF archive is (inexplicably to us) entirely in Spanish, and the programme notes state that, "In Robertson's opinion, this $1.5 million, year-and-a-half-long production was more than a Thanksgiving Day concert at Winterland."

One year later and our programmers were still hot for Scorsese. In 1979 the EIFF programme boasted screenings of American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince – a now rarely-seen documentary. One press member opened with the line, "Martin Scorsese may prove to be the first young American director not to sell out." Which may explain why his films kept appearing at EIFF for another 10 years, including in 1986, when the director's energetic screwball comedy After Hours graced the screen of Filmhouse 1.

Finally, 1989 was the year before his next hit, Goodfellas, and here at EIFF New York Stories featured in the line-up. The portmanteau film was a collaboration with Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola, and his section, Life Lessons, is the final stop of our archival tour. The brochure listing notes that Coppola's section, Life Without Zoe, was made with the help of "my daughter Sofia," making it Sofia Coppola's first film and the beginning of another era of EIFF which brings us right up to the present, as her latest film, The Bling Ring featured in 2013.

Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages for photos from our archives.

Follow us there for more Throwback Thursdays, and don't forget to tell us all about your experiences with Martin Scorsese at EIFF through the years.

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