Edinburgh International Film Festival – The Illusionist – Premiere

Festival Theatre Edinburgh 16 June 2010

Festival Theatre

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is now firmly established in the calendar as taking place in mid-June each year. Films are screened in many venues throughout the city, with the focus being on The Filmhouse, but this year the Edinburgh Festival Theatre was the venue for the opening event. A red carpet event earlier in the evening set the scene, but for the general public, the first event of the 2010 Festival was a screening of The Illusionist, an animation directed by Sylvain Chomet.

I had read a preview of the movie, and as the centre piece of the movie is the City of Edinburgh itself, I was eager to go along to see how my home city had been depicted.

I shall leave film critics and reviewers to the technical details and simply say that I loved it. I shall want to see it many times over to catch little details I have missed, and I’m sure that the stills from the film will become popular motifs gracing postcards of the city and used to advertise Scotland as a destination. That sounds like I am belittling them, and this is not the case – they are rich in detail and beautifully drawn, but the nature of animation lends itself to use in that way. I shall buy the DVD as soon as it is released and put it in Craigwell Cottage for my guests.

My ticket for The Illusionist

The Illusionist

This evening as I returned home after the event, I was seeing Edinburgh through different eyes, and I thank M. Chomet for opening up new vistas for me. I wonder when the big curly lampposts disappeared from Princes Street? I caught glimpses of them in the movie and was transported to the Edinburgh of my childhood.  It even made me nostalgic for the Jenners of old – in the days when it was an independent Edinburgh institution.

If you’re thinking about attending the Edinburgh International Film Festival in future years, be sure to take a look at Craigwell Cottage to see if we might suit your requirements for accommodation. We’re within walking distance of The Festival Theatre, and at the opposite end of the city centre from The Filmhouse.

The Girl in the Cafe Visits Edinburgh!

One day when I was searching the internet for photographs of Clarinda’s Tea Rooms in the Royal Mile, Edinburgh to prepare a recommendation of a good place to eat while staying at Craigwell Cottage I found a website called ‘The Girl in the Cafe‘.

On the site I was offered the opportunity to participate in a project of circulating a DVD, watching it and preparing comments. The DVD is of a film which was shown on BBC some time ago, and as soon as I started to watch it, I realised that I had indeed seen it before. I did enjoy viewing it a second time, but share the frustration which was so eloquently expressed by the protagonist Gina (played by Kelly Macdonald) that the G8 summit is held, there is a lot of noise about it in the press at the time, then we don’t hear anything until the next one.

We witnessed the protests at the Edinburgh G8 summit first-hand, indeed one of our friends was wounded in the course of his employment that week. My husband was shut in his office in George Street one evening, with he and his staff afraid to emerge because of hand-to-hand combat going on in Rose Street. We feared for our children’s safety that week as convoys of police cars and other vehicles moved around the city and reports reached us of fighting in the streets and destruction in normally quiet rural areas.

We were all moved when the concerts and marches pledging to ‘Make Poverty History’ pricked our consciences, but then the terrorist acts of 7 July in London grabbed the headlines and we all moved to the next horror on the world stage.

So it’s a good thing that movies like ‘The Girl in the Cafe’ are around to remind us that we are failing to eradicate poverty, but it’s too simplistic to state that it’s only the Third World where people are living in deprived conditions.

As for the love story which is the other theme of the movie, it’s one of Bill Nighy’s better performances – you do actually feel that he’s a sad lonely man with nothing to occupy him except his job. Kelly Macdonald has just the right pitch of mystery and misery to keep you guessing as to why she’s sitting lonely in a cafe too when Bill asks if he might join her. And of course in the end you don’t know if they will ever meet again.

Susan McNaughton