EIFF 2012: Scotsman criticises Mark Cousins appointment as Patron

Mark tildaEIFF

I, like many film fans this year, have loved working through Mark Cousin’s fifteen-hour documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey. Something that will surely be known as the definitive guide to film; and clips from which will be used in films classes the world over for many years to come.

As someone who follows Cousins on twitter, it’s been great to hear his thoughts and recommendations on this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. It’s great to have such a well-respected film expert attending my home film festival.

So for me, Mark Cousins appointment as a patron does not come as a shock, in fact given his long-term commitment to the festival, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner.

However, if you read this article in the Scotsman, you’d think it was the craziest idea since a movie adaptation of the board game Battleship:

The man behind a revamp of the Edinburgh International Film Festival that led to it being branded a “disaster” and a “debacle” has been made a patron of the rescued event.

Mark Cousins, the writer, film-maker and former director of the festival who led last year’s changes, has replaced Sir Sean Connery as a figurehead in what has been called a shock move.

For those unfamiliar with the events leading up to last year’s ‘disastrous’ film festival. Essentially Edinburgh’s organizers had failed to appoint an artistic director until December 2010.

In the mean time Mark Cousins and Lynda Myles were asked to come up with some creative ideas to ‘relaunch’ the festival in light of having their budgets slashed.

They came up with a blueprint and some ideas were chosen by the festival’s organisers, including guest curators. Most of these guest curators did not turn up, and that element of the festival was very disappointing along with a much poorer selection of films than normal.

However, it should be noted that Cousins had nothing to do with the implementation of his ideas; the films that were selected; or many of the poor choices that were made.

Blaming him for ideas when no one else seemed willing to come forward with them strikes me as the type of desperation normally associated with contestants on The Apprentice.

Also as this article in The Guardian makes clear there were not treated altogether fairly by festival organizers last year, with a lot of confusion regarding their precise role.

In short, the Scotman’s article seems deeply unfair to Cousins, who I am sure many festivals would love to have as their patron. And I’m sure most regular attenders at Edinburgh International Film Festival would join me in congratulating Cousins on his appointment.

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