Festival bill Grants us a line-up of major stars
A STAR-STUDDED world premiere of Richard E Grant's directorial debut will mark the start of this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival.
The British star, perhaps still best known for his role in the classic comedy Withnail and I, will be joined by cast members Emily Watson, Gabriel Byrne and Julie Walters for the screening of his film Wah Wah.
The semi-autobiographical film follows the story of Grant's childhood in Swaziland at the end of the 60s, as it is about to receive independence from Great Britain.
The festival will close with another world premiere of an eagerly awaited British film, gangster flick The Business, directed by Nick Love.
In between, the organisers have arranged one of the strongest line-ups in recent years, with more British and international premieres, the hottest British talent, some unique screenings and appearances by stars such as Elijah Wood, Jason Biggs and cinema legend Paul Schrader.
Love shot to fame last year with The Football Factory, a controversial look at hooliganism. The Business stars Football Factory leading man Danny Dyer.
Dyer also features in The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, likely to be the most controversial film of the festival. The debut feature of British director Thomas Clay had critics at Cannes rushing for the exits with a brutal scene of rape and torture that will gain it notoriety if nothing else.
One of the major highlights is the appearance of Schrader, the man who wrote classics such as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.
His last film, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, was unceremoniously pulled by studio Warner Brothers after months in production and rumours of on-set problems. Schrader fought bitterly with the studio for the right to release his film, and earlier this year it was finally given a very limited release in the US.
Never before seen in the UK, Schrader is offering fans at the Film Festival a one-off chance to witness his take on perhaps the most famous horror movie of all time.
Other major events include the Oscar-winning director of the English Patient Anthony Minghella being interviewed by the festival's artistic director Shane Danielsen.
And for fans of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, creator Joss Whedon will talk live at the festival and present his latest film Serenity, a feature length version of the short-lived but popular TV show Firefly.
Another stand-out event at the festival is the tenth anniversary of Mirrorball, which has championed the work of music video directors such as Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry.
As a special treat, this year's Mirrorball will have a few feature films including Mike Mills' Thumbsucker, starring Keanu Reeves and Tilda Swinton.
Elijah Wood will be promoting his latest movie Green Street, about English football hooligans, and American Pie star Jason Biggs is expected in the Capital to promote his film Guy X.
Mr Danielsen said: "We have a huge selection of British films covering all genres and it really is an unbelievably strong line-up.
"Edinburgh has certainly become the showcase for the best in British cinema."
Bookings for the festival, which runs from August 17 to August 28, can be made from Friday.
This year's highlights
Wah Wah - The opening film of the festival is the world premiere of Richard E Grant's directorial debut, about his childhood in 60s Swaziland. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson and Julie Walters.
Gypo - Starring Paul McGann and Father Ted star Pauline McLynn, Gypo is billed as the UK's first dogme film - an ultra-realistic style of film-making, in which actors perform in front of a camera with a minimum of set. The film tells the story of how a British family in poverty cope with the arrival of an Eastern European asylum seeker.
Green Street - Elijah Wood, right, is drawn into the world of football hooligans when his brother-in-law introduces him to members of West Ham firm the Green Street Elite.
The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael - The controversial story of three teenage boys who are led into violence and temptation in their sleepy English community. The film's more violent scenes forced some critics to leave a screening at Cannes.
Rag Tale - A romantic comedy set amid the sensationalist world of the British tabloid press, which stars Rupert Graves and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Thumbsucker - Music video director Mike Mills' first feature stars Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'Onofrio and Keanu Reeves in the tale of a boy who throws himself and everyone around him into chaos as he tries to kick his addiction to his thumb.
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist - An extremely rare chance to see Taxi Driver writer Paul Schrader's take on the Exorcist legend. The film was never given a wide release in America and may never be seen at another British cinema.
The Business - This is the world premiere of Football Factory director Nick Love's take on gangsters in 80s Britain.
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