Just Listen To That Serenity...
Posted on Monday June 23, 2008, 10:28 by Sam Toy in Edinburgh International Film Festival
I'm continuing to enjoy the serene atmosphere of this year's EIFF - out in the festival's little quadrant of the city, the streets of Edinburgh are positively quiet. Which is a good thing for those who, like my brother, rented an apartment in the Grassmarket district, which is just around the corner from what we have discovered is coloquially referred to as 'the pubic triangle' - a set of strips joints and clubs which becomes even more popular for stag dos and hen nights over the summer months. If the streets had been rammed with the Fringe's usual array of street performers, we could well have found ourselves in the position of me trying to post bail for my brother's murder of various mimes/jugglers/students on the rather flimsy pretense of diminished responsibility through sleep deprevation ("Yes your honour, but it was only a few students...")
But no, by day we're getting from one venue to the next, and highlights of the last 24 hours include a screening of Tom McCarthy's The Visitor, which received another highly positive reaction from a festival crowd. Empire have already reviewed the film (keep an eye out for it on the site in the week prior to July 4th) about Walter, a quiet American teacher and author (Richard Jenkins) who stumbles across two illegal immigrants living in his rarely used - by him - New York apartment. When they unexpectedly but slowly become friends, Walter begins to awake from his apathetic coma. But in an unfortunate turn of events, the young man is arrested on the subway, placed in a detention centre and threatened with deportation. McCarthy, Jenkins and co-star Hiam Abbass joined the audience for a Q&A after the screening, where McCarthy explained his approach that put the characters very much to the fore in a film which could easily have been dominated by its political subject.
I was also lucky enough to catch this year's Skillset In Person presentation. Hosted by none other than Empire's own Damon Wise, 2008's subject was champion Brit filmaker Shane Meadows. Following on from a screening of his latest film Somers Town, the audience were treated to a nearly two hour interview on Meadows' fascinating life and career (including some interesting hints on what may be his next film, or next film but-one, King Of The Gypsies), plus a candid Q&A session. Damo might have a lot more to say about this in his blog, so I'll not bang on about it here, but it was like a massive version of the Empire Interview, and it was brilliant.