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Samantha’s Fuller Life

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Samantha Fuller, daughter of American maverick journalist, novelist, infantryman and filmmaker Samuel Fuller, comes to EIFF this week with a film dedicated to her late father. We caught up with her to learn more.

Samantha Fuller arrived in Edinburgh today ahead of the first screening of A Fuller Life. The documentary features readings from a whole host of famous faces alongside archival images from Samuel’s personal collection.

“My dad had me pretty late in life, at the age of 63, and to kind of keep me believing that he’d be around together he always said, 'We’ll have a big celebration for my 100th birthday!', Samantha told us this morning.

“It was getting close, and so a couple of months before August 2012, I said, ‘This is it, it’d be his big birthday.’

“Even though he wasn’t physically present anymore I still felt like I had to do something special and I didn’t want to just have a party, or do a YouTube video. I thought, you know, I have this wonderful location in our home – which is his office. I had left it untouched since the day he died… even though it has been requested by universities and the Academy who want the archives.

“I want to leave it intact and it makes for such a wonderful set. So I thought, let’s do something in his office and party with him.”

Samantha told us about how each filming became a dinner party of its own, with readers like James Franco, Buck Henry, Mark Hamill, Jen Beals, Bill Duke, and Tim Roth dropping in to read sections from Fuller’s autobiography, A Third Face.

“It was organic, it just happened somehow. I thought, I can’t have the guys play my father, so the best way would be to read from his autobiography and his words.

"I started calling up friends to see if they could get involved, and everyone in the film volunteered their time – cast and crew. We shot for about 9 months, about one reader per month – every few weeks we’d have a new reader come through. It wound up being about a year of celebration!

“In a sense we really did bring him back. He was with us the whole time.”

The film brings life full circle in many ways. First, Samantha Fuller made the film to mark her father’s centenary. Second, she was 37 when she began to make the film: the same age that Samuel was when he made his. In fact, Fuller’s movies made it to Edinburgh back in the 1960s.

“By the way,” Samantha told me unprompted, “he loved Edinburgh. He told me what a great time he had here, and he wanted to take me here, so I’m so happy to be here now.” So Samantha has come, in part, to retrace his footsteps.

“It’s my first time visiting,” said Samantha. “He came in 1969, when there was a full retrospective here at the Festival. It was really cool to come back and to kind of retrace his steps and see where he got his inspiration from.

“It’s exactly the way he described it. It’s like it didn’t change! I have pictures of him standing right here, and it’s so awkward in a beautiful way to have taken the same picture with my daughter now.”

“This is one of the highlights of the Festival circuit. It’s really special.”

The UK Premiere of A Fuller Life screens at Filmhouse tonight, Thursday 26 June at 6pm. The second screening is tomorrow, Friday 27 June at 4.30pm.

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