Day 1 – Opening Gala, Red Carpet, The Illusionist & Opening ‘Do.
Edinburgh International Film Festival’s 65th year began in style last night with the classiest of red carpet events. The Opening Gala film, The Illusionist, attracted guests from Scotland and beyond. With showgirls, ladies on 6-foot stilts, strongmen, and a jazz band, the red carpet rolled out upon Nicholson Street in front of EIFF’s newest venue, the Festival Theatre.
Guest stars included newly-Knighted Sir Patrick Stewart, Scotland’s own Sir Sean Connery and Ewan Bremner, comedians Scott Hill and Ben Miller, a gorgeous America Fererra, and ex-Bond Girl Brit Ekland. Director of the opening film Sylvain Chomet looked delighted, taking in the spectacle and giving interviews. We live-tweeted some quick photos from the press pen, which you can see at the @edfilmfest Twitter page.
As the guests sat down to enjoy some more festivities and the premiere screening of The Illusionist, I scurried off home to prepare for the opening party. The big news from the screening was Sylvain Chomet’s announcement that, “Edinburgh is better than Cannes!” What a charming man!
The opening party was soon in full swing at the Teviot – part of the University of Edinburgh. It’s a lovely old building and classic student union, full of winding staircases and hidden rooms that you only find when searching for a lost pal. Lots of press members were there. Chomet was the first one spotted, having a lively conversation on the staircase. Ewan Bremner and Mark Cousins were chatting away, and apparently Simon Murdoch passed by several times. Maybe next time!
Day 2 – Feeling Fragile, first screenings & Pelican Blood Red Carpet
It was a slow start this morning, with an ambient buzz around the filmhouse after last night’s festivities. Many foreheads were clutched and the pace was a little more relaxed. A lovely morning and the sun had his hat on all day!
After convening at the Filmhouse, it was time to get in on the press screenings. The first up was SoulBoy, a charming slice of life film about the Northern Soul music scene of the 1970s in Wigan. Another spotting of Sir Patrick, who is captaining the Michael Powell Jury. SoulBoy is nominated for the Michael Powell award. Mark Cousins was also in attendance. A full review of SoulBoy will be up in the morning.
On the way there, we also witnessed Sir Sean Connery unveiling a plaque in his honour at a nearby building.
Next up, Jean Reno’s latest French feature, 22 Bullets (L’Immortel). It’s a frenetically paced gangster drama that rains bullets and makes the familial relationships in Godfather look like an awkward blind date. Positively fraught with tense energy with absolutely stunning cinematography and a blinding score from Klaus Badelt. Definitely one to look out for.
The Pelican Blood World Premiere was next – with an understated red carpet event at the Cineworld Fountainpark. Tipped as one of the best British Gala films, it is another nominee for the Michael Powell Award. Sir Patrick made another appearance in full Highland dress, took some photos and made his way in for the picture.
Tomorrow looks to be fairly hectic, with lots of first screenings of some of the festival’s biggest (and silliest) films, including Jackboots on Whitehall, Superhero Me, and the world premiere of comedian Ben Miller’s debut film Huge.
Check back for more blog updates, and you can follow me on Twitter @robotnic for live updates.