Have you seen Inspace?

If you’ve never been there, find an opportunity to do so. It’s a wonderful space run by New Media Scotland in partnership with the School of informatics; located on the corner of what was once Crichton Square car park, opposite the Mosque, it’s a techy nerd’s surreal minimalist wet dream. This year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival almost completely bypassed me. Since it escaped the August festivals hurly burly it’s harder for me to get enthusiastic about it and if it hadn’t been for the number of excellent events I’ve seen at Inspace of late I probably would have seen nothing. The Atmosphere programme goes almost unnoticed during the EIFF; although listed in the programme it just talks about the films and not the remarkable things that go on around them.

The goal of the series is to “re-imagine the concept of Atmospheric movie theaters from the 1920s and 30s,” and it does this very well. Last year a screening of Moon had the staff all in NASA-style jumpsuits and a real life astronaut there for a Q&A about what it’s really like to go to the moon. Since I had already been spending a lot of time there and had some free time I dived into the 2011 programme…

It started with The Man in the White Suit, a film I had never seen. Excellent! Entertaining as well as educational. The audience were welcomed with white cocktails in test tubes which were tasty but amusingly difficult to drink.

The chemistry theme continued with a glorious glass construction near the cocktais.

And of course there was the film to watch as well.

Next up was The Incredibles, which got me very excited and everyone else too apparently as it was a full house. This ‘season’ at Inspace has been in association with the Scottish Academy of Fashion, so for this event we saw a selection of dresses that could almost have been designed by the film’s star, Edna Mode.

There was also a tiny voice activated talking Edna who had been wired into the building’s computer and sound system. It’s remarkable how many people coo-ed and squeed over her.

The Pufferfish had also been roped in, taking the form of the Omnidroid and lurking distressingly in the corner.

The drinks today were mimosas because, of course, Mr Incredible sips on one during the film. I think most of the audience only cottoned on to this while watching.

I had to miss Funny Face. Apparently I should be very sad because it was a massive bunch of fun. [sigh] I am sad.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was another full house.

The audience came in to a tranquil picnic scene where they were served drinks with the promise of picnicky delights later.

There was more fashion…

… and throughout the film Erika Duffy created a Jean Brodie ‘signature scent’ using bubbles, squirters and vast beakers scattered around the space.

For Eyes of Laura Mars the extras were very scientific. Working with the DIEM project, a bunch of volunteers came in to the Informatics department a few weeks previously and watched a clip from the film while having their eye movement tracked. This was then pulled together in a number of styles and the results projected around the space on the night.

You can see the output here:

The Eyes of Laura Mars photoshoot peekthrough from TheDIEMProject on Vimeo.

And so to the grand finale, Fellini’s 8 ½. I knew some of what was planned for this so even though I had to run away from another engagement early to get there, get there I did. Confronted on arrival by a ringmaster’s outfit – complete with whip – and a strangely monochrome setting with gauzy partitions, it set the tone perfectly for the film.

As well as being projected on the main wall…

… the film was also projected onto the rear wall through some of the drapes…

… onto a bed…

… and onto a dinner table…

… where people were invited to sit and have some wine and cheese.

And as if this wasn’t enough, ten minutes before the end of the film it was stopped; people were asked to join hands and were led onto the roof of the building where the remainder of the film was shown on the pufferfish while ‘Fellini bellinis’ were served.

It was a truly magical and spectacular way to show a film that broke the barriers of filmmaking. I saw nothing else of the 2011 EIFF but thanks to this series I have nothing but good things to say about it. I thoroughly recommend you keep an eye on what’s happening next season and where possible, go along!