The forthcoming EdinburghInternational Film Festival (EIFF) is to change its closing night film, endingweeks of squabbling and speculation about Wong Kar-wai's2046.
In a statement, the EIFF announced that it would replace the previouslyscheduled 2046 with Untold Scandal, a sumptuous 17thcentury retelling of the Liaisons Dangereuses story by hot Korean director E J-Yong.
After some four years in the pipeline, 2046was presented in competition at Cannes, although last minute editing and lab work in Bangkok meant the print arrived late on the Croisette and the screening was rescheduled by a day. Laterit emerged that Wong had not finished the film and intended to continue to workon the editing and some effects.
The ongoing work meant that the film's international representative, FortissimoFilm Sales has spent several weeks turning down numerous invitations from festivalsaround the world.
Edinburgh's announcement that it would screen the film wastherefore awkward, although not entirely surprising. UK distributor, Tartan Films had enjoyed major successwith Wong's previous In The Mood For Love and was a key pre-buyer of the biggerbudget 2046. Similarly, Wong is knownto be a keen supporter of the EIFF. At the festival four years ago he wasinstrumental in persuading Scottish writer Richard Jobson to adapt his story Sixteen Years OfAlcohol as his first feature.
Tartan's proprietor Hamish MacAlpine, who alsoproduced Sixteen Years, wasundoubtedly keen to present 2046 in Edinburgh. However, he may have gone further than was wantedby others involved with the film.
There was confusion over which version would be screened at the EIFF - theunfinished Cannes version; or the Cannes version with new sub-titles - as clearly Wong isback at work aiming for completion in late-September or early October. Asrecently as Wednesday last week EIFF director Shane Danielsentold Screen International: "We aregoing ahead with the screening. We have a print. It might not be the finished version, it is probably what showed in Cannes." However, by the end of the week it is known thatthe EIFF had been calling other distributors in search of alternatives to 2046. In the end it picked a film fromits previously announced line-up.
While Wong's production house Jettone was keeping upthe pressure, it is unclear what other pressures were going on behind thescenes. A ban by the Chinese authorities - 2046has Chinese nationality - on the film attending any other festivals until afterthe mainland Chinese theatrical release in October was whispered, but denied byFortissimo. It may simply have become clear that Wong, rumoured to bere-shooting as well as re-editing, would not be able to travel to the festival.
Instead of putting the film out in mid-October, as it had announced Tartan willnow have to modify its UK distribution plans and probably target early 2005. And if it works on the basis that "badpublicity is better than no publicity," Tartan and 2046 may enjoy a happy new year.