Mark Adams

Mark Adams, new artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, enthuses about cinematic loves from Powell and Pressburger to Humphrey Bogart.

  • Mark Adams

What's your connection to the British Council?
I’ve worked with folk from the film department on-and-off for many years and always had a great relationship. Currently we are working with the British Council to host Nigerian screenwriters at the Edinburgh International Film Festival as part of their Script Junction programme.

What are you working on currently?
I have my first EIFF starting on June 17 (the 69th festival) [See the full programme here]

What/who originally turned you onto film?
Growing up watching classic cinema on television in the late 1960s and early 1970s was a starting point, and then dabbling on writing about film when I first started working in journalism at the Leicester Mercury. The revelation that I could be paid to watch films was a massive one.

What has been your career high so far?
There have been many. From working at Variety through to programming the National Film Theatre, and from meeting some amazing film people through to travelling to some incredible places to attend film festivals. But taking charge of Edinburgh is a wonderful honour.

What was your first job in the film industry?
As UK film correspondent for Variety...does writing for trade press count as ‘in the film industry’…maybe! If not then becoming Head of Programme Planning at the National Film Theatre in London.

If I knew then what I know now…
Never assume you know everything, listen to advice and also act with grace and good humour as you start your career…

What is your favourite British film? 
There are many. If I had to pick one it would probably be Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death. Beautifully shot by Jack Cardiff and both funny and moving. But I also love Whisky Galore, Passport to Pimlico, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, Kind Hearts and Coronets and Lawrence of Arabia.

If you could have directed/been involved with any film ever made, which one would it be? Why?

Citizen Kane. Just to see how Orson Welles captured some of his amazing shots and crafted such a stunning film.

What’s the first film you remember seeing?
Not one specific film…but I remember compilations of classic silent films from that used to screen on the BBC on a Saturday morning…Buster Keaton, Harry Langdon, Laurel and Hardy…amazing physical humour.

What’s your favourite line or scene from a film?
Woody Allen’s monologue at the start of Manhattan accompanied by the most stunning compilation of black and white footage of New York, with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue playing over it. The best opening to a film for me…

Favourite screen kiss?
When Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall kiss for the first time in To Have and Have Not. Their real-life relationship can be seen through the façade of the film…and the looks they share at the end of the film as Hoagy Carmichael sings is sublimely romantic

Who’s your favourite screen hero and/or villain?
Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. The personification of cool…

Who would play you in the film about your life?
No idea. A dashing romantic lead perhaps…maybe Errol Flynn