Film festival licensed to kilt as Sean hands over silver sporran

EVERY great film awards has its iconic prize, from Cannes' Palm d'Or to Hollywood's Oscar statues.

Now the Edinburgh International Film Festival has its own glittering prize - a silver sporran courtesy of Sir Sean Connery.

The former James Bond actor was presented with the sporran by the manager of Slaters Menswear in George Street when he visited the store earlier this week.

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Sir Sean said he would have it mounted and engraved before presenting it to the Film Festival to use for an award of their choice.

Staff at the store were amazed by the appearance of the actor, who arrived with his wife Micheline, and SNP leader Alex Salmond early on Tuesday.

The visit had been arranged by Mr Salmond, a close friend of both Sir Sean and Slaters store manager Peter Chesney.

Sir Sean spent almost an hour chatting to staff and asking about the history of the famous Scottish company, before heading off.

He even stopped on the street to speak with some Japanese tourists, in Japanese, after they spotted him getting into his car.

Mr Chesney, a lifelong fan of the actor, had asked Mr Salmond to urge him to visit the store whenever he had a chance, and described the meeting as a "dream come true".

"George Street came to a stop when he got out of the car and the staff were just amazed to see him," he said. "He was really friendly though, and really interested in finding out about the company. He was only supposed to be here for ten minutes, but he stayed for more than 40.

"I presented him with the silver sporran, and he said what he'd like to do is donate it to the Film Festival."

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Sir Sean was also among a host of VIP guests to attend the closing Film Festival party to celebrate the event's 60th anniversary at the National Museum of Scotland on Saturday. Invited guests enjoyed a special screening of the James Mason film The Odd Man Out at Cineworld, Fountain Park, before the party.

Sir Sean, who arrived with wife Micheline and his brother Neil, had to console a tearful Shane Danielsen, who is leaving his role as artistic director of the Film Festival after five years, during his farewell speech

. The former Bond actor put his arm around Mr Danielsen and said: "Don't get too emotional son, you're only 28."

The Sean Connery Silver Sporran Award - if it is called that - would be the festival's fifth award, with contenders already competing for the Michael Powell Award for Best New British Feature, the Best Feature Documentary Award, the Standard Life Audience Award and the Skillset New Directors Award.

Sir Sean was set to attend this year's award ceremony today in his role as patron of the festival.

At a party to celebrate the festival's 60th anniversary, Sir Sean announced that there were plans to develop the film festival next year.

And if successful the Silver Sporran could even become as internationally recognised as the famous Palme D'Or of Cannes.

Yesterday he appeared on the red carpet at Cineworld, Fountainpark, ahead of a special Bafta interview looking back over his 50-year career. Fans and photographers sang Happy Birthday to a clearly chuffed Sir Sean, who was celebrating his 76th birthday.