What's on the menu at Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture
You could argue that Edinburgh is the Glastonbury of film festivals (because it's the most diverse and is expanding at a terrifying pace, not because the toilets make you retch). Coming midway into the city's own Fringe Festival, it's as rich a cross-section of world cinema as you could hope to find crammed into two weeks. Seven cinemas, 15 days, 300 films, an estimated audience of 30,000 people - but, hey, you're not impressed by the facts and figures.

What anyone who has ever followed an usherette's torchbeam down the aisle will be impressed by, however, are this year's special features, the most notable of which is entitled "Scene by Scene". Over the fortnight, various luminaries of the film world will give audiences a detailed verbal tour through a piece of their work, with the use of video projection. Sounds like fifth-form, right? Well, actually, it's a fan's dream come true, because the talks are being given by such notables as Steve Martin (below), who will pick over scenes from his new film A Simple Twist of Fate; the legendary screenwriter Robert Towne, who is flying in to discuss his greatest work (and one of the key films of the 1970s) Chinatown, and will be on hand for a "Scene by Scene" training session; and two of Britain's most innovative directors: Terence Davies (who will guide us through his moving, much-celebrated The Neon Bible) and Nicolas Roeg (who will guide us through his moving, much-derided Cold Heaven), as well as American golden boys the Coen brothers.

And there's more. Already confirmed are a retrospective of Stanley Donen (which we politely assume will avoid Blame it on Rio to spare all concerned unnecessary pain), a Young People's Film Festival, which takes in workshops, events and screenings, and New British Expo, which aims to screen all the British films made in the past year for the benefit of buyers, funders and programmers - that may not mean much to you, but it could feasibly give those features screened a much-needed boost. The festival is bookended by gala screenings of Ken Loach's Spanish Civil War epic Land and Freedom, and the Jerry Lewis/ Lee Evans comedy Funny Bones. But the real curiosities are wedged in between. Go on, have a rummage, get your hands dirty.

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