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Edinburgh Film Festival 2004 - Day Two


By Douglas Bell - Posted on 20 August 2004

Thur 19 August

Edinburgh venues have a tendency to be far too hot during August. Whether it's a local joke to provoke tourists or just a problem with the old venues, today seemed a welcome exception as the cruel heat stayed at bay. The enormous UGC at Fountainbridge seems best equipped with air conditioning, so at least you may sit in comfort whilst you watch the abysmal Hungarian murder movie After The Day Before. This time it's Hungarian inbreds who are all cross-wired, rather than the more dangerous Belgian kind.

A jigsaw of non-linear events have been thrown together and you have to pick up the pieces. It makes you suspicious of everyone from the start, and unfortunately, suspicious that nothing is ever going to happen in the movie.

The film festival offers an abundance of foreign productions this year and they are not all of this standard. The Filmhouse is hosting the Armenian black and white Documantarist which drew oohs and aahs from the audience with its emotional observations of a damaged nation. The caesarean births may put you off your Deuchars at the Filmhouse bar afterwards, but there's plenty mind broadening stuff out there for all to see.

If you thought that the World's Weirdoes all perform on The Royal Mile, you should see some of the ones caught on film. It seems that nothing has escaped the camera as even butt-naked, coal-covered, Dutch diggers adorn the screens with their coal black buttocks and communal shower scenes.

Today's big show was undoubtedly Super Size Me, which had its UK premiere at the UGC, introduced by the director/victim himself, the spellbinding Morgan Spurlock. The anticipation surrounding this movie is like no other and it leaves no-one in any doubt whatsoever about how they feel about McDonald's. I was sneaky enough to get into the packed theatre to witness Spurlock's witty intro. With the same humour he uses to get his powerful message across on film, the man had everyone at ease and craving for more.

Having seen the movie, he took his wife to the bar whilst Edinburgh sat through his gastric study. He was delighted to chat with your diarist and had no pretence about his work and the film's incredible success. Spurlock is very smart and modest. His ability to be perfectly normal is one of his most endearing qualities and it's a powerfully authoritative way to get people to listen to something that should be obvious - McDonald's will not make you happy, nor healthy.

His next piece may well end up being called "Would you like salt and sauce with that?" as I suggested he try the Rose Street Fry whilst in town. He was amused by the recent closure of McDonald's at the UGC too, although he refused to take any credit for it. This man made the fast food giant take the supersize option away from an addicted America, and yet he boasts of nothing.

We joked about the weight that he's lost over the last few months eating little more than aeroplane food as he follows his success wherever it calls him. We were very lucky to have him here in Edinburgh and he felt lucky to be here. We should all watch his movie as he went through Hell to do us all a favour. It's also a great documentary and among my favourites. Somehow, I think that it will have a profound effect on the way we think about food. Even those who already hate junk food should go and see it. It'll be good for you.

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