Paul Ridd

Source: EIFF

Paul Ridd

Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is poised to make a full comeback in August with a £50,000 filmmaker award, backed by The Sean Connery Foundation.

The Sean Connery Prize For Feature Filmmaking Excellence will be be determined by audience vote, from the 10 feature world premieres in the main competition. 

A £15,000 prize for best short film will also be awarded, with submissions now open for both competitions.

“We’re looking for world premieres for the feature and shorts competitions, but we’re agnostic in terms of origin, we’re open to international work, it could be a debut, second feature, fifth, sixth, it could be anything,” said Paul Ridd, former Picturehouse exec, now EIFF festival director.

Ridd arrives at the Berlin Film Festival on Thursday, his first as EIFF director.  With EIFF producer Emma Boa he will meet international sales agents, producers and filmmakers.   

“Whatever it is, it just needs to be something that feels exciting, that we can world premiere that feels worthy of a competition at this scale,” Ridd explained. ”We’re very much looking to nurture and support talent, to get a world class platform for their work.”

The two prizes are at the core of the festival, with more details to come over the next month about EIFF’s venues, additional sponsors, strategic partners and industry programme.

“We want to get across to the filmmaking world and audiences that we are both local and international, we are all about the city of Edinburgh, celebrating the talent locally, but also the international profile of the festival, raising its game going into the future. This is a year we get to set out our stall and then grow,” added Ridd.

“I’ve just been to Sundance, I love the vibe at Sundance. It is such an amazing place to see movies and discover new talent. If we can achieve that level of excitement about new work that we will debut in our competition, that would be amazing.”

The Sean Connery Foundation

The Sean Connery Foundation seeks to honour the actor’s legacy through strategic grant-making to institutions and organisations in the two nations he called home: Scotland and the Bahamas.

“From the moment we launched the Sean Connery Foundation, we have been focused on expanding opportunities for talented young people from Scotland to access rewarding careers in the film industry, particularly those who face disadvantage,” said the foundation chair, Stephane Connery. “Investing in a revitalised Edinburgh International Film Festival is another piece of that puzzle, providing a local showcase for global talent.”

Sean Connery Foundation ambassador, Jason Connery, added: “Dad made it a priority to attend the Edinburgh Film Festival. He knew first-hand what it meant to work hard and struggle for opportunity. He also knew how hard it is to make an extraordinary film. With this prize, we link his legacy as a talent who rose from humble means to achieve global success with the next generation of artists forging that same path.”