By Michael Ferraro | March 22, 2006

Sometimes an actor or an actress will do anything to express themselves artistically. As “Festival” shows, sometimes, an older housewife will leave her husband and child behind to get a chance at showing off her talents to whoever wants to watch. When the Edinburgh Fringe Festival comes to town, bringing over a million visitors (mostly consisting of aspiring actors and comedians), these sorts get their chance to perform in front of a group of people or sometimes, just a few.

“Festival,” shot during the actual Edinburgh Festival, follows a group of various actors and comedians at various stages of career sets, as they give their all to perform. Doing it purely out of love for their art, most of them don’t even have money or possessions where they come from, let alone bring with them. Often times their performances earn mixed feelings from the audience (especially one actress who devotes herself to giving a one woman show about Dorothy Worsdworth) and rarely they earn a full round of applause.

The comedians each vie for the being the best possible funnyman (or woman) possible so they may earn the title of “Best Comedian” at the festival. The jury in charge of picking such a title, includes a somewhat big comic act (Stephen Mangan) that no one really seems to care about during this festival. His ego gets the best of him as he constantly storms out of meetings with the jury and assures them that if he doesn’t think someone is funny, then they really aren’t.

Stylistically, this film exudes a nice improvisational feel to it. All around the board, the acting merges well in this sort of environment, which says a lot when they are shooting scenes in the middle of a street full to the brim with people at the actual festival. “Festival” is like the “Nashville” of the fringe scene; a multi-character exercise that shows writer/director Annie Griffin’s wonderful ability to juggle a large cast with an enjoyable story and constant laughs.

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