Pictured: Gina Gershon (left) and William Friedkin (right) at the Opening Gala.
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“I couldn’t have
imagined a better
way to kick off this
year’s festival …
the atmosphere
was incredible”

The after-party following Wednesday’s Killer Joe première at the Edinburgh International Film Festival surprised me. Firstly because of its setting, since the National Museum of Scotland seemed an odd choice of venue, and secondly because of the incredible atmosphere at it. William Friedkin mingled with other attendees while the masses that had lined up halfway down the street clutching their tickets congregated around the bars, where servers were happily distributing free drinks. Frankly, I’ve never been to such an enjoyable event in the history of my time as a journalist, and the unconventionally filling Killer Joe canapés went a long way to causing that, as did the raw oyster bar (where a marine ecologist and I both had our first raw oysters, a certainly memorable event).

Was there a live band? Certainly. It made the whole affair a bit noisy and limited the scope for networking, but a few light conversations were still attainable throughout the night, and it made the atmosphere all the better. There was also a special EIFF photo booth, although I stayed away from that one, since all the pictures that poured out of it were being projected haplessly behind the stage. Downstairs were pool tables, but I stayed away from them as well, mostly because I’m terrible at pool. Indeed, I spent most of my time wandering around, meeting new people, and trying not to think of the iconic chicken scene from Killer Joe while enjoying the “gourmet” southern fried chicken canapés.

I know that parties aren’t the focus of the Edinburgh International Film Festival; as Chris Fujiwara helpfully pointed out at the première beforehand, there are four focusses to the event, the first being that it’s about film, the second being that it’s international, the third being that it’s a festival, and the fourth being that it’s set in Edinburgh. That said, I couldn’t have imagined a better way to kick off this year’s festival. The atmosphere during the première, which then spilled into the after-party, was incredible, so I have to congratulate the responsible individuals. If it closes as well as it opens, this year’s festival may be remembered as not necessarily the best attended, but one of the most fun, and an indication that its international prestige may soon be restored.