Paul Ridd, a long-term acquisitions exec at Picturehouse Cinemas, has been named director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF).
Ridd joins Edinburgh in December from his current role as head of acquisitions at Picturehouse. His first edition — the festival’s 77th anniversary — will take place in August 2024. He takes over from Kate Taylor, who quietly left the festival after leading this year’s smaller, one-off edition as part of the city’s wider cultural festival.
As director, Ridd will be responsible for creating, developing, and running the business, implementing the fundraising strategy, and delivering a budget and a multi-year plan for the festival. In addition, he will work collaboratively with the board to lead the organization’s overall strategic direction and sustainability, develop the strategy and vision, and build a new team.
Picturehouse releases during Ridd’s time at the company included Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country, Audrey Diwan’s Happening, Charlotte Regan’s Scrapper, and most recently Justine Triet’s Palme D’Or winner Anatomy Of A Fall. Ridd has also acted as a program advisor to the BFI London Film Festival since 2018 and an international consultant for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival since 2019.
Ridd’s tenure will follow a prolonged period of turbulence at Edinburgh, which included a brief closure after its owner, the Centre for the Moving Image, collapsed. Execs at the CMI appointed administrators in October 2022. At the time of administration, a statement from the CMI said a “perfect storm” of rising costs and falling admissions numbers due to the pandemic had been exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis. As part of the CMI’s closure, its two celebrated physical cinema sites, the Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen and Filmhouse Cinema in Edinburgh, also shut their doors. Shortly after, the EIFF brand was retrieved by Screen Scotland, a national funding body, allowing for a scaled-back 2023 edition. Kristy Matheson, Edinburgh’s last permanent director, was in post for just over a year. She was named BFI festivals director in March 2023.
“We are delighted that Paul will be the new Festival Director at Edinburgh International Film Festival,” said Andrew Macdonald, Chair of Edinburgh International Film Festival. “Paul is passionate about film and has the energy and entrepreneurial skills to lead and champion the new, fresh voice of EIFF. I look forward to supporting him and the new team now and in the future.”
Ridd added: “’I am beyond thrilled to be joining EIFF at a crucial point in its history. I aim to lead the festival into a bright new future with world-class films, world-class filmmakers, and engaged audiences at the heart of everything we do. In the coming months, I look forward to assembling a team to deliver the festival, working closely with Andrew Macdonald and the new board to launch something fresh and different for the global scene. I am indebted to the unparalleled mentorship of Clare Binns these past years and I aim to replicate her fierce dedication, passion, and true love for cinema as the driving principles of the festival. Watch this space, and bring it on.”