After all the doom and gloom about the state of the British filmindustry this year, the Edinburgh International Film Festival (August 17-28)has provided some cause for optimism.
That's largely because a string of British features with decentcommercial prospects have unspooled at this year's event.
Richard E Grant's Wah Wah, NickLove's The Business, Gaby Dellal's On A ClearDay, Lexi Alexander's Green Street, Julian Jarrold's Kinky Boots, Stephen Woolley'sStoned and Gavin Hood's Tsotsi have all been cited by critics andindustry executives alike as films that stand a chance of making an impact atthe UK box office.
For many, the find of the festival so far has been Tsotsi, a South African/UK film set within the shanty towns of South Africa. Screen International's Allan Hunter saidthe film has "real commercial potentialin the hands of a committed distributor" (see link below for full review).International sales are being handled by the US based Little Film Company and the film next plays atToronto.
Richard E. Grant's switch tothe director's chair has also drawn good notices and, according to sales agentThe Works, has had a number of offers in for UK distribution. Joy Wong, head of sales at The Works,said she expected to close a UK deal for Wah Wah ahead of Toronto, where the film also plays.
Football hooligan tale Green Street,which stars Elijah Wood and is released in the UK through UIP, had a high profile premiere in Edinburgh with Wood in attendance and drawing the crowds. Itscritical reaction was mixed, but the film's energy and accomplished actionscenes combined with Wood's star appeal should mean that it does decent boxoffice business - at the very least amongst West Ham fans.
Closing night film The Business retreads the well worn gangstermovie path, albeit in the fresh setting of Spain's Costa del Crime in the 1980s. The film looksterrific, boasts a blistering 80s sound track and, in the hands of UK distributor Pathe, standsa very strong chance of making good returns at cinemas.
Other, less obviously commercial films to draw attention include JanDunn's British Dogme feature Gypo (described by The Scotsman as "one of the best British films of theyear") and Saul Metzstein's Jason Biggs starrer Guy X ("acult item" - The Scotsman again).
Edinburgh has, unlike last year, also seen a fair number of starspass through to support their films, including Elijah Wood, Gabriel Byrne (Wah Wah), EmilyWatson (Wah Wah), JasonBiggs (Guy X).
However,perhaps the biggest welcome was reserved for director Joss Whedonand the cast of his sci-fi film Serenity.Hundreds of young fans were on hand to catch the world premiere of the latestoffering from the creator of the Buffyseries. Little wonder that the Universal Pictures film is considered a strong contenderfor the festival's audience prize.