Whisky Galore remake will premiere at Edinburgh Film Festival

Re-making a classic film is not always a popular decision.

If it isn’t broken, why fix it, many film buffs may well ask.

The notion of a Whisky Galore! re-make, for example, could provoke irritation among hardened film buffs, but they may soften when they find out Scottish director Gillies MacKinnon is at the helm.

Perhaps best known for his direction of Small Faces, Hideous Kinky and Regeneration, MacKinnon says he’s thrilled his 2016 version of the 1949 masterpiece will make its world premiere on the last day of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Starring Gregor Fisher, Kevin Guthrie, Eddie Izzard, Sean Biggerstaff and James Cosmo, it tells the tale of the 8000-ton cargo ship carrying export-only alcohol that runs aground off a remote Scottish island.

While the fundamentals remain the same, the award-winning director says he hopes his take will be as warm as amber nectar itself.

People are very fond of the original film, it’s a classic,” said Gillies, “but if you look at it, there is very little story there and it’s very short at 82 minutes long.

“But it was very clever to make it so short, it just ran through, and that’s part of the charm of it, it never gets boring.

“The re-make is not very much longer, perhaps just 10 minutes longer, but we focus on the relationships in the story, particularly the central family.

“That is Gregor Fisher’s character and his two daughters. He doesn’t want to let them go to the suitors in the film.

“It’s a very gentle story about an older guy who doesn’t want to lose his daughters.

“That’s equal to the whisky story, they run hand-in-hand, and I think that’s really the essential difference.

Humour is also a part of it, but it’s not broad comedy.

“It’s there in the script, but it’s not written as comedy, the humour emerges through the characters and situations and I took a lot of care about that, it wasn’t about trying to make people laugh.

“It’s a drama with a lightness to it. There’s nothing sinister or dark in the film, and all the characters are all very human.”

MacKinnon also feels he has another special link to the original film and its director Alexander McKendrick.

Gillies said: “Sandy presented me with an award via satellite link when I finished art school 30 years ago.

“In that way I feel there is a sort of circularity to it and that I have a moral right to it, but I know that’s a bit silly!”

This year’s festival, its 70th edition, will showcase 161 features, and organisers have expressed delight that a new Scottish film will not only close the festival but open it too.

The opening night gala will feature Tommy’s Honour, directed by Jason Connery and starring Peter Mullan, Jack Lowden and Sam Neill.

The period drama is about the strained relationship between a father and son, set against the backdrop of the early days of professional golf.

Other Scottish highlights include the screening of ET to the sound of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, a special screening of Trainspotting to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and the highly anticipated coming-of-age film Moon Dogs.

Edinburgh International Film Festival runs from June 15 to 26. Visit www.edfilmfest.org.uk.