EIFF 2009 - Mark Kermode

EIFF - Mark Kermode

Everyone’s a critic

Veteran film critic Mark Kermode shares his experiences of the EIFF and tips on finding our festival feet

What are your thoughts on the EIFF?
My line has always been that Edinburgh is like Cannes only civilised. Cannes is horrible, genuinely horrible. It’s completely the wrong culture to watch films; it’s a hideous broiling Riviera full of incredibly rich people and yachts. The whole of it’s crawling with press and there’s a total lock-down bunker mentality that everyone is desperate to get into everything and it turns everyone against each other.

So, what makes Edinburgh different?
It has always been the complete antithesis of this. For a start, the culture of being in Edinburgh – the streets are nicer, the bars are nicer, simply it’s just a nicer place to be.’

What have your experiences of the festival been?
Edinburgh is where I had my best ever festival experience. I had gone up to Edinburgh for Film 4 and my friend gave me a ring out of the blue to watch a press screening of a Japanese film [Takashi Miike’s Audition] – I didn’t know anything about it. So we turned up to this film and it’s a lovely little romantic comedy, a funny story about this guy who is difficult and awkward and can’t meet girls. And then it turned into the most scary, literally, hide under the seat in front of you because you have no idea what is coming next film. And it was absolutely brilliant because we were completely unprepared for it, no expectations whatsoever, and it absolutely ran both of us over like a steam train.

Any other festival stories?
I remember when Gaspar Noé introduced Irreversible at the festival. About ten minutes into it, after a guy getting his head stoved in with a fire extinguisher, the guy in front of me passed out and I had to carry him out to the auditorium. When I came in I thought, this is brilliant, this is absolutely the way to see films.

Do you have any hot tips?
The key thing is to keep an open mind and always retire to a bar after to talk about it and enjoy it.

Radio 5 Live’s Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode: Wittertainment at its most Wittertaining, Cineworld, Fri 19 Jun, 1pm, free but ticketed.

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