Festivals, Cultural and City Events

Film Festival interview with Dr David Sorfa

Dr David Sorfa, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University, reflects on the 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Dr David Sorfa

How were you involved in this year’s festival?

I introduced and hosted a number of Q&As with film directors at EIFF 2015. These included the Austrian comedy Therapy for a Vampire (David Ruehm) and the found-footage haunted house horror film The Houses October Built (Bobby Roe), two very different takes on horror which show that there’s still plenty of life left in this genre.

I also spoke with David Wilkinson after the world premiere of The First Film in which David argues that the very first film was made and screened in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1888 - significantly earlier than the films of the Lumière brothers or Thomas Edison.

Most daunting was meeting and moderating a one and half hour In Person conversation with the prolific Hong Kong director Johnnie To. We discussed many of his triad gangster films, including Election and Exiled, as well as some of his less well-know - in the West, at least - social commentary and comedy films, like Life Without Principle and Needing You.

I also managed to catch a few interesting new films, such as the new adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Burrow (Jochen Freydank) and the British science fiction film Narcopolis (Justin Trefgarne), as well as Robert Carlyle’s debut film as a director, The Legend of Barney Thompson, which opened the Festival.

What do you hope audiences took from the events you hosted?

I think that all the directors’ sheer enthusiasm for and dedication to cinema must surely have shone through in every Q&A.

Bobby Roe worked on The Houses October Built for five years while it took David Wilkinson thirty-three years to complete The First Film! Johnnie To has directed over sixty feature films and produced many more.

Cinema is surely as vibrant an art form as it has ever been and audiences are still fascinated by the films and by the people who make them.

In what ways do you think academics and students enhance the Festival?

The many students from the University of Edinburgh who volunteer every year to help with the festival are there not only to make sure everything runs smoothly, but also because they love film. I am immensely impressed by their dedication to the EIFF.

I think that academics provide an important critical dimension to the discussions that continue far beyond the on-stage Q&As. Everyone at the festival is there to celebrate cinema, but also to debate and critique new developments amongst themselves and with the filmmakers.

Did any other events or screenings stand out to you this year?

Interviewing Johnnie To will certainly remain a highlight for me. I have often taught his films over the years, so it was a particular delight to have the opportunity to spend so much time with one of my favourite directors.

How does the Film Festival inspire you?

The EIFF reminds me that cinema is a vital and important art that speaks to many people. Cinema is alive and well, and for a week and a half in June, its centre is in Edinburgh.


More information on the Film Festival events David took part in:

Film at the University of Edinburgh

Film Studies at the University

David can be contacted via email at:


Dr David Sorfa