He replaces festival director James Mullighan, who headed up the criticised 2011 edition; Gavin Miller is stepping down as CEO of the festival’s parent company, the Centre for the Moving Image.
Chris Fujiwara has been appointed as the new artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
A writer, film critic, journalist, editor, and translator, Fujiwara is currently based in Tokyo, but is relocating to Scotland to take up the role. He was previously based in the US.
His published works on film include Jerry Lewis and The Little Back Book: Movies in 2007.
Fujiwara has worked as a programme consultant, juror and selection advisor on a number of international film festivals. He is a member of FIPRESCI (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique), the National Society of Film Critics (USA), and the Boston Society of Film Critics.
The appointment comes after weeks of speculation as to who would take over from James Mullighan, following the 2011 edition of the EIFF, which came under fire for its lack of high profile titles and a series of administrative and PR blunders.
In response to industry complaints the EIFF released a statement promising to appoint a “dynamic and innovative” artistic director as well as reinstating the Michael Powell Award. It also said it would consider a move back to the festival’s old August slot, although as yet there is no indication that the 2012 edition will move from June.
Meanwhile, Gavin Miller, who appointed Mullighan to head up the 65th edition of the festival, is stepping down from his role as CEO of the festival’s parent company the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI). There had been ongoing rumours of conflicts between the board and Miller.
Mullighan had been brought in to replace Hannah McGill who stepped down from her role as artistic director after the 2010 edition.
Chair of the CMI, Leslie Hills, said the board was “delighted to have someone of the calibre of Chris Fujiwara joining us and we look forward to a festival to remember in 2012. His extraordinary knowledge of, and passion for, film coupled with a fantastic range of contacts, working with the expertise and dedication of Edinburgh International Film Festival staff, is exciting and will no doubt bring unexpected and delightful results.”
Fujiwara said he was “especially enthusiastic because Edinburgh is a festival that has been known in the past for taking the lead during periods when filmmaking and film criticism were going through major transitions.”
“I look forward to working hard to make Edinburgh central to the transitions that are now under way,” he added.