There was more than the usual sense of anticipation in the air at Edinburgh Film Festival 2015. Not only the prospect of the best of forthcoming global cinema, but was the first festival of newly appointed director Mark Adams. In the mix for his first outing were some cracking Scottish-produced world premieres and Q and A’s with stars and film makers including Ewan McGregor. Plus a theatre and big screen knight of the realm in the city for two films, Sir Tom Courtney. So far so impressive.
The opening bow for the new festival director made Festival’s Opening Night that extra bit special not least because the festival was to kick off with local boy and Trainspotting star Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut. Big hitters were present and correct for The Legend of Barney Thomson.
There was much excitement as delegates gathered for a pre-screening cocktail in the grandly elegant pillared hall of Old College, Edinburgh University before heading next door to the Festival Theatre.
For his first outing as director Carlyle had surrounded himself with some impressive talent including Sir Tom Courtney, also in town with 45 Years for which he won best acting honours at Berlin Festival this February. Starring opposite Carlyle was Emma Thompson in a rip roaring turn as a good time granny. Though Ms Thompson was not in Edinburgh her standout performance in the film was very much on everyone’s lips. Another performance much remarked upon was that of Ray Winstone as a grizzled and jaded detective. And so it was a happy coincidence that Short Film jury member, his daughter Jaime, was there to see the world premiere in a very splashy fashionable frock. Also gracing the red carpet was Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan.
As well he might Festival director Mark Adama expressed his pleasure bookending Edinburgh Film Festival 2015 with two world premieres and admited being « even more excited that they are a pair of terrific new Scottish films”.
But it was very much the night of debuting director Robert Carlyle who raised the roof when he walked onto the stage to present the film and his cast. The warm reception was to continue as the film screened, with loud laughter for hit the spot humour in this stylized black comedy. The film’s warm reception bouyed the mood of revellers at the Opening Night party at the next door Museum of Scotland. The atmosphere carried the crowd well past midnight. Aside from the trays of Scottish themed locally sourced nibbles and, of course, the free flowing drinks, the firstnighters could pose up for a souvenir snap of their night at the America Airlines photo booth. Excited punters eagerly posed for a colourful selection of classic tourist snaps with props including trendy sunglasses and even a very smart retro camera, which gave pictures a sense off the DiCaprio airline hit, Catch Me If You Can.
The Legend of Barney Thomson ensured that Edinburgh International Festival got off to a rousing start with treats in store including Colin Kennedy’s eagerly anticipated debuts Swung, a chance to see Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years and hot new film Chicken by debuting feature director, Joe Stephenson.
All leading up to that other all important bookend the Closing Night film, Scott Graham’s Iona. The word is that it is moody and magnificent, words which might well sum up the offering of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015.
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