Festivals, Cultural and City Events

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is in our sights

Be assured, it’s not only Cannes and Sundance film festivals that get the glamour; the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which is the world’s longest continually-running film festival, has its fair share of movie premieres, press screenings and VIP gala events. And if you are looking for a unique way to get involved, then the Centre of Open Learning run the ideal course for you in conjunction with the festival itself - Insight into Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The course starts on 21st June and runs for 10 days.  One of the tutors is film lecturer, writer and broadcaster, Pasquale Iannone who talked to us about the course and his relationship with the film world.

Who is the ‘Insight into the EIFF’ course aimed at and who do you envisage will get the most out of it?

I’d say that course is aimed at anyone with an open-minded interest in film, no matter what their age, background or previous knowledge. Fellow course tutor Martine Pierquin and I like to think that all students will get something out of it, both in terms of learning more about the art of cinema but also in terms of the social aspect. In the ten-plus years that I’ve been teaching on the course, we’ve had ages ranging from 16 to 80 - school leavers, students, professionals and retirees. Many students return year after year and some go on to study other film courses with us.

Pasquale iannone


Why do think it is important for the university to collaborate with the Film Festival?

Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of both the course tutors and external guest lecturers, the course provides critical, theoretical and/or historical frameworks for the films students will watch. Last year, for instance, students attended a fascinating industry workshop, which explored the question of genre in relation to cinema. We complemented this with a screening of Anna Biller’s offbeat feminist horror film The Love Witch that also tied in with a lecture I gave on the use of colour in contemporary cinema.


Where does your love of film come from and what is your relationship to the Film Festival?

I’ve had a strong interest in film from a very young age. I was brought up on the Hollywood cinema of the late-80s and 90s. In my early teens, I remember really getting into the films of Quentin Tarantino, especially Pulp Fiction. It was at that time that I also started getting interested in non-English language cinema. I went to the very first edition of Italian Film Festival at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse where my dad and I met director Ricky Tognazzi after a screening of his film La Scorta (I’ve still got the signed brochure). I started studying film in my final year as an undergraduate and then went on to pursue an MSc in European Film Studies and then a PhD.

I started attending EIFF in my mid-teens, around the time Mark Cousins was Artistic Director, and I’ve been going ever since. I’ve worked with Filmhouse (the home of EIFF) since 2003, regularly curating film seasons, providing live spoken translations, hosting filmmaker Q&As, delivering lectures, organising exhibitions and taking part in conferences.


Is there a particular film, event or strand that is particularly exciting you about this year’s Film Festival programme? 

There are always so many terrific strands in the programme. This year, inspired by the tumult of Brexit, the retrospective is made up of three strands under the banner of ‘The Future is History’ and includes films from the 1970s and 80s that explore the question of identity. There will be big screen outings for familiar classics such as Withnail and I and The Long Good Friday as well as lesser-known films such as Death Watch and Born in Flames. The Black Box strand – curated by former University of Edinburgh lecturer Kim Knowles - always provides a treasure trove of experimental cinema and we’re looking forward to taking students to one of those. The In-Person events look excellent this year – in-depth conversations with prominent figures such as Kevin Bacon, Stanley Tucci and Richard E Grant.


Have you met any great names in film at the Festival in the past? Do you ever get star-struck?

In the past, we’ve attended events featuring US filmmakers Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables), Roger Corman (The Pit and the Pendulum, The Trip), Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, Night Moves), Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) and Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Trainwreck). I have fond memories of an event featuring cinematographers Roger Deakins (The Shawshank Redemption, No Country For Old Men, Skyfall) and Seamus McGarvey (Atonement, Nocturnal Animals) and a workshop with the acclaimed editor Thelma Schoonmaker (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino). There was also a brilliant In-Person event with the late Ken Adam, the legendary production designer who worked regularly with Stanley Kubrick (Dr Strangelove, Barry Lyndon) and also created some of the most famous James Bond sets (Dr. No, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me).

I used to get starstruck early on, but after hosting dozens of Q&As and doing several magazine and radio interviews with actors and directors over the years, I just about manage to hold it together nowadays…


Do alumni from this course go on to work in the industry?

Yes, we’ve had several former students from the course going on to work in various parts of the industry – from curation to filmmaking. We like to keep in touch with many of them via social media and it’s always great to see alumni doing well!


Related Links

There are a couple of spaces left on the course - An Insight into the Edinburgh International Film Festival

Try out something new this summer - Festival of Open Learning - Summer 2017 Short Courses

Courses are available year round - Centre for Open Learning