Back to the future

Monday 13 June 2011

The new team behind the Edinburgh International Film Festival should rewind to the heady Seventies for inspiration, according to experts.

The authors of a new book say that the annual event, which kicks off this week (15-26 June), has long lacked the thought-out cultural agenda that once prompted Hollywood star John Huston to describe it as ‘the only festival worth a damn’.

As the EIFF marks its 65th birthday this year, former festival staff member Matthew Lloyd suggests that if the Festival is to survive, it should look back to its Seventies heyday.

In a new book published by film scholars at the University of St Andrews, Lloyd describes how he left the Festival staff in 2008 after witnessing ‘an increasing uncertainty concerning the Festival’s identity’.

St Andrews Film Studies publisher Dr Alex Marlow-Mann commented, “Amidst fierce criticism in the run-up to this year’s Festival, Lloyd provides valuable insights that should give both sides of the debate pause for thought. It’s a timely reminder that from its earliest days Edinburgh has been quite unlike any other film festival.”

Whilst critics have attacked this year’s reduced programme, high ticket prices and the lack of an overall curatorial project, new Director James Mullighan has declared his intention of resetting the festival’s agenda, reinventing it for modern audiences.

In the first book to explore the festival’s most influential period (1968-1980) Lloyd describes how intellectuals, critics and filmmakers flocked to an event that was immediately recognised internationally as an agenda-setter.

Dr Mann continued, “During these years Edinburgh had a clearly defined and radical curatorial project. The Festival went against the grain and interrogated mainstream notions of international film culture. From the re-assessment of neglected American ‘B movie’ icons like Sam Fuller, to the early championing of auteurs such as Scorsese and Cronenberg and dedicated retrospectives on feminist and avant-garde cinema, Edinburgh led the world.”

“It is a legacy that the Festival organisers need to fully absorb and communicate to their critics before they can achieve their avowed aim of making EIFF ‘the brain of the British film industry’.”

How the Movie Brats Took Over Edinburgh: The Impact of Cinéphilia on the Edinburgh International Film Festival, 1968-1980 is published by St Andrews Film Studies, 2011.

To find out more or to order, visit:


Note to Editors

The author and publisher are available for interview:

Matthew Lloyd: [email protected]

Alex Marlow-Mann: [email protected], tel 01334 467463

About the author:

Matthew Lloyd is a filmmaker, curator and festival producer. He worked for the Edinburgh International Film Festival for 10 years, as both a programmer and an administrator. Matthew has produced two high profile film events for Tilda Swinton and Mark Cousins, the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams in 2008 and A Pilgrimage in 2009. He currently directs Glasgow Short Film Festival. Matthew has also directed three short films, which have screened at various international festivals.


Issued by the Press Office

Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Communications Manager on 01334 467227, [email protected]

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