THE EDINBURGH International Book Festival’s success in booking American novelist Paul Auster to appear this summer, when, as a man celebrating his own 70th birthday, he is also part of the series of 70th anniversary Spirit of ’47 events that have been programmed by the Edinburgh International Festival and the British Council, illustrates precisely what I still think was lost when the Edinburgh International Film Festival moved to earlier in the summer.

The 2017 film festival begins on Wednesday and successive directors have examined my former colleague Hannah McGill’s decision when she was director to switch from August to June, and concluded that the earlier slot benefits the event in terms of how it fits in with the global calendar of festivals of the moving image and the established working of the screen industry. But it remains true that the EIFF is now disconnected from the Festival and Fringe with which it too shares a post-war birth year, so the sort of joint initiative that has attracted Auster ¬– after two decades of asking, apparently – are not as achievable.

From an entirely selfish point of view, it also means I myself see much less of the film festival and its parade of glamourous people. When it was in August and I was based in the capital anyway, catching a screening or popping into a party was much more likely than it is at the end of June when my attention is more likely to be on the rest of the arts agenda while colleagues who specialise in cinema take care of the coverage. There are, for example, the long-established Glasgow Jazz Festival and St Magnus Festival in Orkney to enjoy at the end of June.

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The June dates for the EIFF also took movies out of the mix as far as our Herald Angel Awards are concerned, which is another matter of considerable personal regret. When I noted that Scots actor Shirley Henderson is soon to open in a new Dylan-inspired play by Conor McPherson at the Old Vic, I immediately recalled that she and Sharon Small were among the earliest winners for their performances in the Rona Munro-scripted Bumping the Odds, which premiered at the film festival twenty years ago this year. As it happens, I have also recently seen Small as an excellent Jenny Diver in the National Theatre’s new version of Brecht and Weill’s Threepenny Opera.

When the film festival was in August, the Herald Angels’ track record in picking winners from the EIFF programme was as sound as it has been in every other department of the arts. Emily Watson was also an unknown new young talent when she received her first ever award in the form of a Herald Angel for her role in Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves. Four years later the film festival had the premiere of Stephen Daldry’s film Billy Elliot and its first accolade came in the form of a Herald Angel. The hit movie opened in cinemas worldwide a month later with “Herald Angel Winner” on all the posters, which gave us a particular thrill as its acclaim and popularity grew.

Like Glastonbury – but not very much, really – The Herald Angels took a break last year because we were unable to find the right partners to work with to make our regular Saturday morning awards event happen. In fact it turns out that we did not need to look that far and I am very pleased that the Angels will be back this August, jointly presented with the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh, which has been the venue for them since their inception. In the words of Brian Loudon, Director of Operations, Festival and King’s Theatres: “The Festival Theatre is delighted to support the return of The Herald Angel Awards. The awards play a vital role in acknowledging the breadth and scale of the amazing creative talent that assembles in Edinburgh every summer and it’s an honour to host the Herald Angels here.”

The link-up is what I believe our American cousins call “a no-brainer”, and has me happily casting my mind back to the other highlights of the illustrious history of the Angels and hobnobbing with people like Gabriel Byrne, Dannii Minogue, Miranda Richardson and Brian May.

But much more importantly it is about looking forward to the prospect of welcoming this year’s Herald Angel winners to the foyer of the Festival Theatre come August – even if the film folk are no longer automatically in the mix.