I was at Edinburgh Film Festival on Wednesday and Thursday for the Scottish Animation Network screening, Animated Mythologies, Bafta and Shooting People’s organised talks, along with Animated Extremes, Cycle Cinema (showing Belleville Rendezvous) and Inspace’s talk with Alex Hetherington proclaiming his love for Comme Des Garçons’ clothing range. All in all, a brilliant two days in the capital city.

Amongst the Animated Mythologies films, French gem Rubika really stood out for me. Its gravity-pained characters and eye-catching 3D animation was distinctly original. From the Animated Extremes strand, The Eagleman Stag by British Director Mikey Please was so aesthetically striking I didn’t want it to end! Throughout the film, I was trying to figure out if the white styrofoam 3D animation was stop motion or computer generated images. I came to the unsatisfying conclusion that it could possibly be a combination of both. The story was a dry humoured take on life which left me reflecting deeply and philosophically about life (usually these thoughts are pushed to the back of my mind to retain some form of sanity). I’ve seen Anna Pearson’s Out on the Tiles a few times now and originally it was an animation I wasn’t particularly keen on, but I have to say it’s grown on me a bit. Patrick Harkin’s Sarajevo is a brave short. I’ve not seen many monologues on screen (really just Bennet’s) and I have to say, it was all pulled off excellently by the superb acting of Blythe Duff.

Bafta and Shooting People’s talks felt rather rushed. Once they’d spent time introducing the speakers and explaining their backgrounds, it was practically time to move on to have a 5 minute break before the next lot of speakers. Jon Reiss’ talk just started getting interesting but again was cut short. I think the mediator could have been more involved and kept the various discussions on topic. At one point whilst discussing distribution, the topic went way off course when a member of the audience asked about funding options. Naturally, the speakers all said that wasn’t really their area of expertise, however they all went on to offer suggestions. Jamie Dolling (YouTube) kept pretty quiet perhaps due to the fact that it was excruciatingly obvious short films just get lost on their giant platform unless you have a talking cat. Hannah Vincent (Head of Content and Scheduling at itzon.tv – go here to watch great content for free! Still in beta though…) curates the content on the website which keeps a high quality of viewing material available without sifting through LOL Cats. I had heard Jamie King (VODO) speak before at Sheffield Doc Fest 2010 about Steal this Film and, although I like the idea of his website, it’s more suited for feature films, so really Hannah Vincent was the only relevant speaker there and with the itzon model, filmmakers can actually make a bit of cash! I really like the itzon concept where the filmmaker and the viewer are both catered for; you can organise a simultaneous online broadcast screening at the same time your film appears at a festival. (Update: Sadly itson.tv has been suspended due to lack of funding in the current economic climate).

With all its bad press, Ben’s (slightly biased) Blog gives a refreshingly positive outlook on this year’s film festival, though he neglected to mention the amazing animated films curated by Iain Gardner (whose own recent award-winning short The Tannery was shown as part of the Scottish Animation Network screenings) and the Nokia Shorts Weekend. David Newbigging’s The Ambitious Potato and Joern Utkilen’s Asylum was worth a trip to Edinburgh alone! I agree the festival should be pushed back to August again, taking full advantage of all the culture-loving tourists who come to the city for the Festival. Fingers crossed it’ll pull itself together for next year! In the meantime, there’s always Glasgow Film Festival 2012 to look forward to! (Submissions now open!)