The stars of Disney-Pixar’s BRAVE were piped onto the red carpet today at the Festival Theatre as they celebrated the first showing of the new film BRAVE in the UK. Inspired by the rich heritage, myths and legends of Scottish history, the filmmakers say they are delighted to premiere the film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The Sun newspaper had run a competition for Merida look alikes. This was the winner with the real Merida:-
We took the opportunity to get some photographs of all the stars and to speak again with Chris Fujiwara who is EIFF Artistic Director for the first time this year as to how he thinks the 66th Festival has gone.
We also chatted with Scottish actor Kelly MacDonald who plays the main character Merida, and who is a big star in the US in the series Boardwalk Empire, about her inspiration for her feisty red-headed female lead and then caught up with Kevin McKidd who has been busy the last few months recording a CD of Scottish tunes called The Speyside Sessions for Save the Children as well as his many US commitments in Los Angeles. He plays Lord MacGuffin in Brave.
Here is our series of short interviews with all of those we managed to catch on the red carpet but our full suite of photographs below shows that there were many others attending that we simply did not get the chance to talk to, including Tallia Storm who just had the absolutely best hat we have ever seen!
Robbie Coltrane OBE plays Lord Dingwall in the film which he said is quite a unique role for him. He has only seen the film once and that he was looking forward to seeing it in front of a crowd.
Director Mark Andrews spent his honeymoon in Scotland in 1992, and it was his and his wife’s passion for the country which is largely responsible for the film being made. Chairman of VisitScotland Mike Cantlay told us that the film Brave is a wonderful tool for Scotland’s tourism industry to use for marketing purposes.
First Minister Alex Salmond has been talking about the film for ages but was happy to give us his views on his right hand man Kevin Pringle’s nuptials taking place today.
Earlier today Director Penny Woolcock was awarded The Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film for her film ONE MILE AWAY which also received its World Premiere at the Festival. One of the most prestigious film awards in the UK, The Michael Powell Award was bestowed by a Jury headed by actor Jim Broadbent, who was joined by Japanese actress and producer Kiki Sugino and the founder and director of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Tiina Lokk.
The Jury citation read: “ONE MILE AWAY by Penny Woolcock is a brave and honest film tackling a huge problem with sensitivity and skill, not only charting the efforts to reconcile a community but also showing the great wealth of creativity that is part of that struggle. We are delighted to be able to recognise such a singular achievement”
Penny Woolcock said: ”ONE MILE AWAY is about transforming and saving lives. Winning the Michael Powell award is a tremendous boost for us to help get the film and its message out to where it needs to be in our inner cities.”
Young Scottish mind-reader Colin McLeod’s often mind-boggling one-off performance at the Edinburgh International Magic Festival took the deductive skills Sherlock Holmes for its inspiration. How the slightest body movements can betray what we’re thinking, for example, or how information we’re trying to conceal can be extracted with a few seemingly innocuous questions.
But it soon spun off into broader territory, showcasing McLeod’s own seriously impressive abilities at prediction, observation and deduction. He’s a charismatic yet sincere performer, and he found an ideal balance between being jokey and purposeful. He kept things light and fast-moving, yet his seriousness of purpose drew the audience in immediately and kept us captivated throughout.
There were tantalising glimpses of how he manages to pull off some of his extraordinary feats, especially the simpler ones, but they only made some of McLeod’s more astonishing deductions all the more impressive.
Almost all the audience played a part in McLeod’s warm and welcoming show – although he was at pains to emphasise that he wouldn’t embarrass anybody. Most impressive was a feat in which McLeod guided an unwitting audience member to carry out a seemingly superhuman feat of memory – even now I can’t begin to work out how he pulled it off. And the show finished with an astonishing place-switching trick that left everyone scratching their heads.
It’s a shame that McLeod’s show was a one-off, but you can catch him again as part of The Colour Ham on Thursday 5 July. And there are plenty more shows to take in as part of the Edinburgh International Magic Festival, which continues until 6 July.
5 Star Restaurant and Inn!
The multi award winning Horseshoe Inn is a pretty little Inn situated in Eddleston by Peebles right in the heart of the Scottish Borders. After a slow drive out of Edinburgh last Tuesday Celia and I came across this lovely looking boutique style Inn, and on seeing the smart exterior we were eager to get inside.
Once we got to the reception in the main building we were greeted by the wonderful and personable Sumith Alahakoon. Sumith is the general manager of the Horseshoe Inn, and his extensive experience in luxury hotels really shows. We were shown to our lovely little room, complete with complimentary homemade gingerbread, teas, coffees and Molton Brown toiletries, where we dropped off our bags and then headed back to the reception.
Once back in the main building (housing both the super smart à la carte restaurant and the cosy bistro) we waited in the plush lounge to be taken in to dinner. At this point we really got to know Sumith better. We learned he not only runs the whole hotel but he is also a registered sommelier, and he banished all hopes of us sticking to any kind of a diet by insisting we opt for the full tasting menu, with wine to match.
The Horse Shoe Inn is a very old building and has played host to monarchs in the past. The walls are thick, so even though it is right on the road it is quiet and very relaxing. The warm terracotta hues and plush furnishing gives the hotel decadence and quaintness in equal measure. Right from the off it seemed like a lovely friendly place to stay and the more we found out about it, the more we realised we had found an absolute diamond.
We started off with the most tasty homemade bread flavoured with lime and thyme, and swiftly moved onto our beautifully presented amuse bouche of calamari, goats cheese and beetroot and Celia’s (non shellfish option) of crispy ox tongue and white onion soup with a nettle pesto. Both were gorgeous and offered the promise of what was to come.
For starters we were presented with huge juicy scallops and chorizo, a very tasty combination. The sweetcorn puree which accompanied it really added sweetness to the dish. Next on the list was a small meat dish full of local and seasonal produce including leek and carrot terrine, chicken rissole and a confit of chicken and ham. This was a perfectly sized portion and didn’t fill us up too much before our next four courses!
The fish course included wild Bass, Devon crab with crushed Roseval potatoes and a tasty Fennel and Nettle pesto. The Bass was beautifully cooked with a crunchy skin and juicy tender flesh. The meat course was a roasted lamb loin, and didn’t this just melt in our mouths! It came with a fresh pea Casserole, crispy lamb breast and sautéed kidneys. (I can’t say the kidneys were eaten, but the rest was devoured, we just aren’t kidney people!)
Our final two courses were a cheese course with a variety of local cheeses, and an exceptional pudding of feather-light blackberry Souffle and a Date and Walnut Parfait with refreshing carrot sorbet.
Towards the end of the meal, Riad Peerbux, the head Chef at the Horseshoe Inn left his busy kitchen to have a chat with us. He, like Summith, had worked all over the world, producing innovative and exquisite dishes. Riad clearly values quality produce, and gets most of his ingredients from local suppliers and he also favours seasonal produce. His original creations such as a carrot sorbet are amazing. Riad and Summith married the food and wine together perfectly throughout the menu.
The wines were all spot on. We enjoyed a real variety including a New Zealand Gewurztraminer called Little Beauty which was wonderfully sweet and set off the Scallops and sweet corn puree beautifully, Chateaux De Lamarque, Haut-Medoc, 2007 which complemented the melt in the mouth lamb and the yummy pudding wine; Cabidos, Petit Manseng, 2007.
Summith was the perfect host and you could see he not only looked after the guests, but his staff as well. His experience in the international hotel industry really showed, this Inn is more a boutique hotel than a country Inn. It is the perfect place to go for an unbelievable meal and a night away from the city, or for exploring the glorious Borders countryside. Riad assured us his Sunday lunches are top notch and we are looking forward to taking friends back to enjoy a lazy afternoon of vino and a perfectly cooked roast.
Back in our room, Celia and I reflected on the evening and I realised that although we had had 7 courses plus canapés, bread, amuse Bouche and petit fours, we weren’t actually full to bursting. We certainly didn’t have that uncomfortable feel after a big bowl of pasta. This I realised was the sign of an exceptional tasting menu. Enough to fill you up and get your senses going but not enough to make you feel uncomfortable and lethargic. (And of course make you forget your diets that I thought you were on… Ed.)
After a cosy night’s sleep in a super comfortable bed (the mattress protectors were the thickest I had ever seen!) we went to the restaurant for what was sure to be a delicious breakfast. And a delicious breakfast it was!
Celia had a full Scottish with all the trimmings and fresh orange juice. I ate a lot of fresh croissants, pain au chocolat and home made breads with jam as well as a tasty fruit salad with raspberry sorbet. A great start to the day.
The whole experience at the Horseshoe Inn was exceptional. From the staff to the food to the beds, the Horseshoe Inn was luxury at every turn and it is definitely worth the trip out of town for such great food and service!
The Horseshoe Inn, Eddleston, Peebles 01721730 225
These tours are a comprehensive guide to 1000 years of Leith’s history and its immense importance to Edinburgh and Scotland over the centuries. The cosmopolitan nature of Leith and its exposure over the centuries to varying cultures, languages and traditions has shaped the Leith we experience today. A former landing place for pilgrims both Druidic and Christian, and then for many Kings and Queens thereafter, Leith transformed itself into Scotland’s pre-eminent sea port in the 13th century. It then continued to grow in stature and importance for Edinburgh, and for Scotland as a whole, despite less than harmonious relationships between the two, throughout the centuries.
Each tour sets off from the 200 year old Customs House on Commercial Street. Then, taking in all three of the components that make up historic Leith, North, South and French Leith (at one time, the largest of them all), it winds its way through Leith’s ancient streets and finishes back where it started at Customs House.
Tour participants will hear all about the fascinating aspects of Leith’s past articulated by well-tutored guides on tours which will last around 90 minutes. Tours are circular in nature so if you choose a Self Tour by picking up a brochure from participating outlets in Leith you will always end up right where you started from!
Walk Tour – Leith in conjunction with EdinburghTourGuides.com have prepared this exciting tour to make your visit to our wonderful wee port as memorable as it could be.
Booking on line at www.edinburghtourguides.com or by calling 07858-880-072 guarantees you a guide and tours start 10.00am, 12 .00 noon and 2.00pm daily with an evening tour at 7.00pm from June 25th right through to September 30th.
Leith is truly a destination within Edinburgh for all sorts of reasons so round off your visit to Leith by enjoying this comprehensively researched tour, the very best on offer in Leith.
It’s Panda-monium as The Beano & Edinburgh Zoo join forces
Britain’s best-loved weekly comic, The Beano, brings its unique brand of mischief to Edinburgh Zoo this week when the Zoo’s giant pandas, Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine), are given the ultimate honour of their short stay in Scotland so far… Being immortalised alongside Dennis the Menace and Gnasher in The Beano!
In this week’s edition of the comic, available on news-stands from Wednesday 27th June, Dennis and Gnasher get to grips with Edinburgh Zoo’s premier attraction. Mike Stirling, Editor-in-chief of The Beano and BeanoMax said, “Dennis & Gnasher’s wild behaviour brought complete panda-monium to Edinburgh Zoo when they gate-crashed to invite Tian Tian and Yang Guang to become our first ever panda cover stars! Our giant panda pals were happy to pose for The Beano’s artists, and actually turned out to be giant pranksters, sharing a few wild menacing tricks of their own!”
“Dennis uses these to bamboo-zle sworn enemy, Walter in the special comic strip celebrating the visit. I’m sure the keepers at Edinburgh Zoo were relieved when Dennis and Gnasher left to head back to Beanotown, although they were probably still scrubbing the tomato splats off the pandas’ enclosure for a few days to come. It also was probably the first time ever that the tiger enclosure had resounded to the echo of whoopee cushions instead of roars!”
Tian Tian and Yang Guang join other famous faces recently featured in comic form such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, President Barack Obama, England captain Steven Gerrard and, in our recent Diamond Jubilee special, none other than The Queen herself.
In the June 30th issue of Britain’s wildest comic, Beano readers can win the chance to meet the pandas themselves in a unique VIP experience, plus there’s a discounted Zoo Membership offer for menaces everywhere! Dennis himself stopped off at Edinburgh Zoo to celebrate this great competition and offer – and to visit his new panda pals of course! To celebrate this unique tie-up, all children visiting Edinburgh Zoo over the next few weeks will get their very own copy of this special Panda-edition Beano absolutely free!
Sharon Simpson, Head of Marketing for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “Edinburgh Zoo was delighted to be approached by The Beano to create a special panda edition. Being immortalised in this iconic way is testament to the the popularity and ‘celebrity’ of our giant panda pair – Tian Tian and Yang Guang. Since their arrival they have fast become central to Scottish culture and the latest honour bestowed upon them and the RZSS is a real privilege. We hope Panda and The Beano fans everywhere enjoy this special issue.”
Edinburgh Today – Armed Forces Day – Fundraising BBQ – Bus diversions – Trams update
There are actually so many things happening in the capital today it is difficult to fit them all in. Here is just a selection:-The Edinburgh International Film Festival ends tonight with the closing night Gala Premiere of DisneyPixar’s Brave which our Film Festival correspondent Ryan McNeely previews here. We hope to get some photos of the Hollywood stars who did the voiceovers for the film arriving at the Festival Theatre this afternoon.The Pride Scotia March is taking place today and will arrive at the Omni Centre in Greenside Place around 2p.m. A new exhibition opens at the National Gallery called Expanding Horizons, featuring landscapes by Lusieri, while the Munch exhibition continues. You should perhaps know that the Portrait Gallery will be closed on Monday due to a Royal visit.The Canal Festival is on today which includes a Raft Race from Lochrin Basin. Edinburgh Spotlight tells you more about what is happening on the canal. And there is the Big Dance taking place today and tomorrow which you can read more about under our Culture and Entertainment section. If you know about anything else feel free to add it in our comments section below.
Armed Forces Day in Edinburgh 2012 will begin with a parade of veterans from King Stables Road into and through Princes Street Gardens starting at 1pm. Speeches from the Ross Theatre will take place at approximately 1.20pm followed by entertainment that includes military bands, jazz band, highland dancers, majorettes and the Kennedy Cupcakes. There will also be children’s activities in the gardens and stalls promoting the work of the Armed Forces and veterans charities. Entry to the Ross Theatre and all children’s activities is free.
A variety of different events will be hosted in the gardens until 5pm. Highlights include a flypast by a Royal Air Force Typhoon, entertainment from acts such as the Kennedy Cupcakes and the SCOTS Mil Afghan Rock Band, as well as inflatable assault courses and bouncy castles. Events will last throughout the day and round off at 5pm with the Ceremony of Beating Retreat.
The Rt Hon Donald Wilson, Lord Lieutenant, Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh and Veterans Champion said: “Our military service personnel and veterans deserve recognition for the immense sacrifice they make day in and day out to keep this country and its people safe. Holding a day of celebration in their honour is just one of the ways the City can thank them.
“Edinburgh is looking forward to welcoming hundreds of veterans to Princes Street Gardens for a fun, family-friendly event to celebrate these men and women’s bravery and dedication to duty”.
Armed Forces Day is the annual, national campaign that allows everyone to show their support for the men and women of the Armed Forces past and present, including currently serving troops, Service families, Reservists, veterans and cadets.
Kevin Gray, spokesperson for the Royal British Legion Scotland, said: “We are proud and delighted to take part in Armed Forces’ Day. The Legion regards the event as one of the most important parts of its year when we can come together as a nation and pay tribute to the grit and professionalism of our Forces.
“Recent years have put extraordinary pressure on our Servicemen and women, it’s only right that we can, once a year, acknowledge their extraordinary achievements. It is also one of the rare opportunities to involve all the families, an important part of the Services’ community and one should never be forgotten.
“It’s a day of togetherness with all the ex-Service charities participating while serving members of the Armed Forces and veterans march together. We see it as a fun day too, a celebration not solemn commemoration. Let’s salute and celebrate!”
Similar events have been taking place across the UK, enabling people to come out and show their support, and giving a much-valued morale boost for Armed Forces personnel and their families. This year’s national event took place in the City of Plymouth.
There’s a fundraising BBQ at one of Edinburgh Council’s care homes, Clovenstone House Care Home, Clovenstone Gardens, Edinburgh today Saturday June 30. It starts at 1.30pm and the star attraction will be the dance group Hustle who will be providing the entertainment – a singing and dance group who got to the final of Edinburgh’s Got Talent. Hustle will be on at 2.30pm.
They are donating their time to the event which should be a great event for residents and their families.
From today, Princes Street will be reopened (between South Charlotte Street and South St. David Street) to most City Centre buses, and possibly also to taxis and bikes. Other diversions are still in place in the City Centre. Here is the information you might need to get about by bus from today.
If you would like to know how the trams are coming along, Edinburgh Trams have issued a photo update:-
Over 100 free dance events will turn Edinburgh into one giant dancefloor for Big Dance Edinburgh today and tomorrow.
Today and tomorrow Edinburgh is playing host to a weekend of free dance events to excite, inspire and entertain. Big Dance Edinburgh promises to be the largest celebration of dance that Scotland has ever seen with opportunities to watch, perform and learn from hundreds of people passionate about dance. Aligned with The Scottish Government’s initiative to Get Scotland Dancing, the weekend showcases dance at all levels and for all ages featuring everything from aerial performance to zumba tasters. Strictly Come Dancing stars Vincent Simone & Flavia Cacace will act as ambassadors for the event as their Midnight Tango tour arrived in Edinburgh this week to get audiences in the mood for dance.
Big Dance Ambassadors Vincent & Flavia are thrilled to be involved in the weekend’s celebrations saying: ‘The weekend of Sat 30 June and Sun 1 July offers you the chance to experience almost every style of dance. Enjoy watching performances or join in the fun and try something new. From ballet to aerial, belly dance to breakin’ and everything in-between, we hope you’ll be excited, inspired andmost of all, that you’ll get dancing too!’
Edinburgh’s Dance Base is the local hub for Big Dance activity and has been co-ordinating the celebration on behalf of all the participating groups. Artistic Director Morag Deyes MBE said:-
“We have always been about the joy and openness of all kinds of dance and how great it makes you feel regardless of size, age or ability. This weekend will reaffirm that with bells, tutus, whistles, tassels and tiaras on! Even if you don’t feel like joining in I’m guessing you will feel the excitement surging throughout our beautiful dancing city.”
Speaking ahead of the launch of Big Dance Edinburgh, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Dance is part of Scotland’s rich cultural identity, with everything from ceilidhs and Highland reels to ballet and break-dancing contributing to our strong dance tradition.”We are committed to supporting this vibrant sector, using dance to promote Scottish culture and creativity on the world stage through our ambition to Get Scotland Dancing. The Big Dance project chimes with that ambition.
“The 2012 Olympics, its Big Dance programme and the Year of Creative Scotland provide great platforms to engage Scots of all ages and abilities in dance activity. We will build on this through to 2014, when Scotland will host a second Year of Homecoming, the Ryder Cup and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.”
Three main spaces at Castle St, Grassmarket and St Andrew Square Gardens will host two full days of events. Rose St will come to life with pop up dance performances with support from Essential Edinburgh and the National Museum of Scotland host workshops, taster sessions, talks and dance screenings. Dance Base opens its doors for those wishing to dip their toe into dance as well as hosting a Professional Dance Open audition and breath-taking aerial performance from All or Nothing Dance Theatre. Even shoppers will be tapping their feet in-store at Harvey Nichols to bite size demonstrations of a variety of dance styles.
Closing Big Dance Edinburgh a Guinness World Record attempt will be taking place in a transformed Grassmarket as Edinburgh attempts to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest tea dance.
Expert friendly teachers Susan and Gary will guide absolute beginners through some moves setting them loose to join more experienced dancers. Partners and 1940s costume are optional!
To take part register by texting your name to 64446 or click here
Other programme highlights include:
Castle Rocks Park Jam bringing beats, breaks and battles inspired by New York Bloc parties of the 1980s
The Big Dance-along-movie: Dirty Dancing at St Andrew Square Gardens featuring Dance Base’s Dirty Dancing performance group
Step in Time, The MGA Academy of performing arts presents a new dance extravaganza taking audience on a trip through the history of dance on stage and screen
Broadway Mania – The Flashmob Musical! Jazz Art UK will present a fast and furious fusion of musical theatre numbers in a number of high energy pop up performances on Rose St.
With almost 100 dance groups taking part, 120 different events and almost as many different dance styles to choose from Big Dance Edinburgh promises to be a spectacular celebration of dance – bringing dance to the people and people to dance.
We’re almost at the end of the festival now for another year. I hope at least some of you have tried out one or two of the movies I’ve recommended over the last two weeks. If you have, feel free to drop a note in the comments and let me know what you thought.
Redheads are awesome, aren’t they?
In the highlands of 10th century Scotland, Princess Merida has been raised by her mother, Queen Elinor, to be a traditional lady, but Merida has a rebellious streak a mile wide and much prefers to be out in the woods shooting arrows. When King Fergus hosts the other clan lords to select Merida’s betrothed, she runs off and stumbles upon a witch who casts a spell to change Merida’s fate. But the spell doesn’t quite turn out the way she hoped it would.
This is Pixar’s thirteenth feature-length animation, and it is the closest they have ever come to the traditional Disney princess blueprint. They come close, but thankfully not too close. Yes, Merida is a princess and yes, there is magic and yes, she (arguably) does have an animal sidekick or two, but they don’t talk and there is no singing, and there is definitely no Prince Charming anywhere to be found. This is a love story, but not between a young woman and the man of her dreams; it is about the love between a daughter and her mother.
Merida is a wonderful choice for Pixar’s first female protagonist. She is smart, resourceful, humorous and willful to a fault. You’ll never find her sitting in a tower waiting to be rescued. This is a young woman who will join a competition to win her own hand in marriage so that she will avoid an unwelcome betrothal. Kelly MacDonald lends her gorgeous and authentic accent for Merida’s voice, and the animators back in Emeryville have done an outstanding job. You’ll probably see some variation of this comment in just about every review of the film, but it’s true: Merida’s hair is practically a character unto itself; an untamed mane of beautiful red curls that bounce around constantly, perfectly matching every movement of her head.
And she’s not the only one. The characters – both human and animal – all look and sound great. Realistic skin still seems to be still a little beyond them (or maybe they’re deliberately holding back in order to avoid the Uncanny Valley effect) but the characters are cartoony enough for it not to matter. As good as the character work is, with the exception of Merida it pales next to the landscapes in which the story takes place. This is scenery porn of the highest order and it is breathtaking. The level of detail is mindblowing and the 3D is deployed beautifully to create this fully immersive world. In fact, there are frequent moments when you would be forgiven for thinking you were watching a VisitScotland tourist board commercial. I was fairly sure Pixar could be relied upon for this, and they’ve done me proud by not Americanising this very Scottish story. Most of the cast are Scots, and those that aren’t still manage to do the accent well enough. This is still a fairy tale of course, so nobody is going to let historical verisimilitude get in the way of the story, but it’s hardly revisionist. Well okay, maybe it is a bit, but certainly not Braveheart level. I’ll ask my historian flatmate for her professional opinion once she’s seen it, just out of curiosity.
The production of Brave was marred by a rather important change in personnel when director and original story writer Brenda Chapman was fired about halfway through. The story was actually quite personal for Chapman, inspired as it was by her own relationship with her daughter. The excuse given was the standard “creative differences” nonsense, and Chapman was replaced by Brad Bird’s protege Mark Andrews. They are both listed as directors in the credits, but you’d need to be an insider to be able to state which elements each worked on, and how different the final movie is to Chapman’s first concept. When you consider that she was Pixar’s first female director, working on their first female-centric flick (and such a personal one to boot), it is a shame that she didn’t get to see it through. I’ll leave it to more well-informed minds than mine to discuss things like gender roles and the implications for the future of women in animation.
Let’s talk about the trailers for this film for a second. They were very good at showing the world in which the story took place and who the lead characters were, but they didn’t really give any indication of what the story was. Now this approach does have its benefits but also its drawbacks. On the plus side, I hate it when trailers show too much. I’ve already stopped watching new trailers for The Dark Knight Rises to avoid the possibility of that very thing happening, and the trailers for Cabin In The Woods back in April completely ruined the whole surprise of that film. A trailer is supposed to whet your appetite; it’s supposed to make you keen to watch the film, not think you’ve already seen it a month before the release. The downside of this strategy is that when people don’t know what to expect they often end up disappointed. Just look at John Carter – co-written by Brave’s replacement director Mark Andrews, incidentally – if you doubt that one. The point is, it was a (pardon me) brave decision on Pixar’s part to be so reticent in the advertising, forgetting that the original title when the movie was announced back in 2008 maybe gave the game away a little. In this case, I don’t really see how it would have made much of a difference if they had gone a little more into the plot in the advertising, since what Pixar avoided mentioning occured at most about half-way through the second act. It was far from a last minute twist. For those interested in such historical nuggets, by the way, the movie was announced as The Bear And The Bow.
Wow, got a little bit sidetracked there didn’t I? Brave deserves to be a hit, and to restore some of the minor disappointment still lingering in the wake of last year’s Cars 2. It is funny, visually dazzling, and led by a welcome addition to the Disney Princess canon. It has a refreshing message about female empowerment that is clearly put across, and is handled with a delicate enough touch to avoid putting off the boys that will come for the fights and the bears. And yes, John Ratzenberger is in there somewhere.
Brave is getting its European Premiere as the Closing Night Gala for this year’s festival both this afternoon when the stars will be on the Red Carpet at the Festival Theatre and then again tonight. Tickets are long sold out, but you can still go red-carpet-spotting if you are so inclined. The film is also playing on Sunday morning as part of the Best of the Fest final day event. Tickets for all the Best of the Fest screenings are £6 (£5 concessions) from the Filmhouse box office or the EIFF website. General release in the UK is scheduled for August 17th.
Scotland’s arts and creative industries sectors add more than £3.2 billion to the country’s economy, according to new research published today.
The research, jointly commissioned by Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, also identifies direct employment in the sectors as at least 84,000, with a further 21,000 working in a creative capacity – for example, those self-employed, or working in a creative role beyond the creative industries.
Where indirect contributions (through the supply chain) and induced effects (spending by both the supply chain and workers within the arts and creative industries) are included, the total gross-value-added contribution rises to £6.3 billion and employment to nearly 130,000. Overall levels of employment in the creative sectors are believed to be higher still, the researchers conclude, as current classifications may not capture all sole traders, freelancers or other workers.
The impact of the arts and creative industries on local economies across Scotland is also included in the study, and highlights the relative strengths of diverse sectors. Though Glasgow and Edinburgh account for 40% of all employees in the arts and creative industries, other areas also record higher than average levels of employment in those sectors: including the Borders, where textiles and fashion feature as a key sector; in Orkney in crafts and heritage; and Shetland in fashion and textiles and heritage.
The report highlights Scotland’s performance when compared to UK counterparts in the arts and creative industries. London and the South East of England account for more than half of all UK jobs in these sectors, followed by Yorkshire, while Scotland ranks fourth.
Andrew Dixon, Chief Executive, Creative Scotland welcomed the report and added:-
‘Scotland’s talent is recognised worldwide and valued at home for high quality work and the joy that a vibrant cultural life brings to our communities. For the first time, the impact that Scotland’s arts and creative industries has on the nation’s economic well-being can now be set alongside these other achievements and is further proof that Scotland thrives on creativity.’
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said:-
“Scotland is one of the world’s most creative nations with a global reputation for innovation and enterprise, a world-class higher and further education system and highly-talented workforce.
“This welcome report, in our Year of Creative Scotland, highlights the significant economic benefits generated by Scotland’s arts and creative industries – overall, amounting to 130,000 jobs and £6.3 billion GVA and £12.5 billion in turnover.
“That is why the creative industries is one of the seven priority sectors in the Scottish Government’s economic strategy. We are doing all we can to build sustainable economic growth for Scotland and by providing the right public sector support, through Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Creative Industries Partnership, we are ensuring our creative industries are well placed to realise their economic potential at home and abroad.”
Linda McPherson, director of Creative Industries at Scottish Enterprise commented:-
“We welcome the results of this study, which helps us understand more about the sub-sectors which offer the greatest potential for economic growth. We’ll continue to collaborate with our partners to identify how we can support these sectors to grow further, and particularly to encourage our companies to invest in their growth and maximise the international opportunities the growing global creative industries sector offers.”
The research is the first comprehensive study of the contribution to the wider economy of the arts and creative sectors. Using existing data from the Office of National Statistics, researchers have refined the sector definitions to more accurately reflect contemporary creative practice – identifying 16 distinct industries.
The study forms part of a wider programme of research that Creative Scotland and its partners are conducting – a more detailed study of the Outer Hebrides will be published shortly and further studies are planned on cities, design and film.
The report can be found here: http://www.creativescotland.com/resources/research
Portland Hotels, the privately owned hotel management and investment company, with two of its properties in the capital, has reported a strong performance with rising sales, despite the ongoing challenging and uncertain market conditions.
In figures released in the company’s most recent annual report to 29 January 2012, the hotel group reports a further year of growth with a 4.8% rise in turnover to £14.3m and profit before tax of £1.6 million, an increase of 13% in profits on the prior period. Colin Paton, Chief Executive of Portland Hotels said:- “The trading performance of our company has been very impressive during 2011/12. Like for like sales have increased by almost 5% in an economy which is at best ‘bumping along the bottom’. This has enabled us to outperform the Provincial UK Hotel Industry with a healthy increase in pre-tax profits.
“Sales performance across both business and leisure channels has been pleasing – with the ‘staycation’ undoubtedly boosting the leisure market. Despite challenging market conditions, a softening of the European Leisure market, some airlines removing capacity and the recent higher inflation, with a strong revenue management focus we have again succeeded in driving sales up. We have maintained our investment programme with a further £0.7m invested in our estate last year, bringing the total, excluding acquisitions, invested in our estate to £7.5m over the past 8 years. We have always and will continue to invest significantly in our products as we believe this sets us apart from our peers and the larger brands and has enabled us to attract and retain customers and preserve rates.
“Portland is keen to expand. Despite an indication that substantial additional facilities would be favourably considered by our principal banker, from late summer onward our perception of the risk to trading and asset values caused by the Euro Crisis combined with a lack of quality investment opportunities resulted in the company not increasing the size and geographic distribution of its portfolio.
“Founded in October 2001, the company’s hotels are in demand, in good condition, in higher performing markets, with well trained unit and head office staff. Our distribution, e-commerce and marketing are effective and our balance sheet is strong. We remain committed to providing value-for-money, high quality, comfortable rooms, coupled with attentive service in the highly competitive local markets where we operate.”
The Portland Hotel portfolio comprises the Huntingtower Hotel, in Perth; Best Western Edinburgh City Hotel, Best Western Edinburgh Capital Hotel, Glasgow Pond Hotel and the Speedbird Inn, Aberdeen. Together the group has a collective roomstock of nearly 550 rooms.