Alan Cumming reveals his fury after 75 years of waiting for the Edinburgh International Festival to nominate a Scottish director

Alan Cumming is in Scotland to launch his new film My Old School at the Glasgow Film Festival.

The Perthshire-born Hollywood and Broadway star hailed Benedetti’s appointment as the first Scottish and first female director of the event, saying it was a “huge moment” that would “change the bloodline of the festival in a very positive way”.

But Cumming, who is in Scotland for the premiere of his latest film at the Glasgow Film Festival, blamed an ‘inferiority complex’ for the previous failure to appoint a Scotsman to take charge of the festival, which will celebrate its 74th birthday this summer, before the Ayrshire-born violinist.

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New York-based Cumming, one of the most prominent celebrities to support Scottish independence, said there was a parallel between the history of the EIF trustees being appointed and the arguments in favor of self-determination.

Nicola Benedetti has been appointed as the next director of the Edinburgh International Festival. Photo: Jessica Shurte

Cumming also said it was a “shame” that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was still in Downing Street.

Born in Perthshire, Cumming shot to fame in 1984 with Forbes Masson when the pair took Victor and Barry, the variety double act they had trained at Glasgow School of Drama, to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

He made his International Festival debut in 2008 in The Bacchae, when Australian impresario Jonathan Mills ran the event, and has made regular appearances under Irishman Fergus Linehan.

Cumming will appear in Linehan’s Swansong season in August, in a Robert Burns-inspired dance performance.

Asked about Benedetti’s appointment, Cumming said: “It’s great news. She’s young, she’s a woman, she’s Scottish. She has a classical background, but she also has a contemporary outlook.

“I had heard rumors about other people, so it was a surprise.

“I think the fact that there is a young woman there immediately changes the sensitivity of it. It changes the lineage of the event in a really positive way.

“It’s great for her, but it’s also great for Scotland. I knew there hadn’t been a female manager before, but I was shocked to find out she was the first Scottish.

“When I read that she was the first Scottish person I thought ‘that’s great’, but that also screwed me up.” It really pisses me off that only now, at this point in the festival’s history, with its 75th anniversary this year, is it the first time a Scot has been nominated.

“I think there was an inferiority complex. That’s why, I think, we have to be self-determining, because we’re so used to assuming that these people are making the decisions for us.

“When you look at that in relation to Westminster controlling Scotland, having English men – not Fergus obviously, because he’s not English – telling us how to handle our greater cultural instruction, there’s a parallel there.

“I think it’s great that we’re saying ‘you know what? We can do this ourselves very well and probably do a better job’.

“It’s great that they left with someone who is highly respected in classical music, but I think it will bring new energy to someone who is not of the patriarchy, and particularly of the English patriarchy. , in any way. It’s a huge moment.

Darcy J. Skinner