Thursday, 22 July 2010

An Interview with Hannah McGill

Hannah McGill.


Hannah McGill.

Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.


Talking with myfilms2010.

Ridiculous isn't it?

Hannah McGill (along with her gifted and talented team) is responsible for the EIFF and has been responsible for taking out of the shadow of the Edinburgh Festival to being a genuinely world class film festival that stands independently. She has brought weird, wonderful, bizarre, moving, shocking, blockbuster and arthouse films to industry and public alike during her time as the artistic director.

As a well known face on the film scene in Scotland (and no doubt further abroad) I started by asking her which character from film history she would like to be able to transform her into in order to avoid being recognised and bothered when she is enjoying some down time?

This would be an excellent superpower to have. I would disguise myself as The Dude, and would sit in the corner of Filmhouse smiling benignly and drinking White Russians. (In fact now I come to think of it I may do that anyway.)

Famously, Gus Van Sant remade "Psycho" without changing anything...if you could remake any film in the same way what would it be and what do you think the point would be?

I really liked that he did that. There is nothing much in cinema that isn't worth trying, and I thought it was an interesting academic exercise on iconic imagery and mimicry and cover versions and how we regard the very familiar when it's interpreted in a different way... I love Gus Van Sant. The film I would remake would be Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, with the lead roles played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall.

In Dantes "Inferno" the final layer of Hell finds Judas trapped in ice for time and all eternity, conscious and aware of the magnitude of his sin in betraying Jesus...which film would you force Judas to watch in his layer of Hell and why?

I always thought that was mean, because he kind of had to betray Jesus, didn't he, in order for Jesus to sacrifice himself for mankind and for all that to pan out like God wanted? I mean the whole plan wouldn't really have worked if Jesus had lived a long and happy life, would it? Judas was just playing his part as scripted. However. Accepting the general premise, I think he should watch THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. That would touch a raw nerve.

What song would you choose to play as the credits rolled on the biopic of your life and why?

Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler, which I adore without the slightest irony.

Finally...which film from your time at the EIFF would you choose to show to someone to let them see what it is about the EIFF that makes it special?

I think something from the Under the Radar strand, which was created in 2008 and which has housed some of my favourite films and directors. Rona Mark's STRANGE GIRLS or Zach Clark's MODERN LOVE IS AUTOMATIC. They are clever and cool and fun, and shocking and dirty and weird, and steeped in film knowledge and technique without being preachy or pretentious... which is more or less how I would like us to be.

There you have it.

That's why Hannah McGill is who she is and why she is where she is.

Genuine thanks to Hannah for taking time to answer these questions at a time when she was VERY busy with events at the EIFF.

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