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Filmhouse, Edinburgh

1 September 2014

Questions: Andrew Birbeck / Answers: Head of Filmhouse, Rod White

You’re known as ‘the man who knows his movies’. When did the love affair with cinema begin and how long have you been involved with Filmhouse?
Am I? That’s nice! From as early as I can remember. It’s been this way since I saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the ABC Dundee many years ago. In one capacity or another, from ushering to programming, I’ve been at Filmhouse for 20 years. 

What makes a brilliant movie? Can you give us a couple of examples, and what sort of films, if any, do you absolutely loathe?
Generally, when what it’s about and how it is made is in perfect harmony. The Third Man and Terrence Malick’s Badlands spring to mind. I hate comedies that aren’t funny and boneheaded action films, like The Expendables. 

The 68th EIFF (Edinburgh International Film Festival) was held recently. How did that go?
I’ve done it enough times to know what to expect, so basically you just prepare yourself for 12 16 hour days, get on with it, then collapse at the end. Filmwise, I adored a documentary about salt making in rural India, called My Name Is Salt. I hosted a Skype Q&A with Eddie Izzard as well, and he was an absolute star. 

How healthy is the Scottish film industry? Can you tell us about some up-and-coming home-grown talent, and who the ones to watch are?
There was a handful of very good Scottish films at the festival this year, including A Practical Guide To A Spectacular Suicide and A Dangerous Game, so I’ll be watching out for what Graham Hughes and Anthony Baxter get up to next. More widely, Scott Graham (Shell) and Paul Wright (For Those In Peril) show great promise. 

You’ve screened some big premieres and had some impressive names come through the doors. Who are the standout stars you’ve met and what made those encounters so memorable?
It’s always a pleasure having Sean Connery visit, and Jennifer Lawrence is taller than me in heels. Maggie Cheung smoked in our office post the smoking ban, and Michael Palin is the nicest man in the world. But my favourite moment of all time was a special screening of The Harder They Come with Jimmy Cliff in attendance. The man was a star, and he treated the audience to a capella rendition of Many Rivers To Cross. There was not a dry eye in the house and your actual standing ovation. 

What makes Filmhouse so special and why visit?
It’s a place that lives, breathes and loves cinema, and offers the perfect, relaxed environment to discuss that thought-provoking film you’ve just seen over a meal or a drink.

filmhousecinema.com

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