Sir Sean blasts BBC over film festival snub

SIR Sean Connery used the final day of Scotland's major film festival yesterday to launch an outspoken attack against the BBC's poor coverage of the event.

The movie legend, patron of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, made clear his disgust at the corporation's coverage of affairs in Scotland in general.

Sir Sean spoke out just moments before handing over the festival's main awards at the Filmhouse cinema.

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He accused the BBC of effectively ignoring the film festival in its new slot in the calendar in June and said he was furious when he heard the corporation had sent hundreds of dedicated staff to the Glastonbury festival, but "not one" to Edinburgh.

The Scot later said he had been alerted to news reports of the BBC's coverage of Glastonbury, with the number of staff reportedly almost as many as devoted to the Beijing Olympics. The corporation was reported to have sent 407 staff to the festival.

Some 111 hours of television coverage was planned to be devoted to Glastonbury with a further 60 hours on radio stations.

The BBC responded by insisting the two events could not be compared and said the film festival had been covered well on its news bulletins.

The 78-year-old actor mocked the BBC's name, saying it had no right to say that it represented the whole of the UK and that it actually stood for "British Bull**** Corporation".

He told the audience: "I would like to make a point. We have more than 300 BBC technicians that have gone to another festival (Glastonbury] and not a single one that has come here.

"I think we should all do something about it."

He was loudly applauded when he added: "I know I will be criticised for saying anything, but we have to stand up to it."

Speaking to The Scotsman after the ceremony, Sir Sean said: "It's supposed to be the British Broadcasting Corporation but it's not, when you look at how many people it sends to Glastonbury. The BBC forgets it is representing four different countries. All I am asking for is equality.

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"I know Jonathan Mills, the director of the Edinburgh International Festival, has raised this before. I think it's something the Westminster government has got to get involved in.

"Everybody said we were taking a risk moving the festival to June, but ticket sales are up and people like Sam Mendes do not have to come here.

"They can go to any other festival, like Cannes, but they choose to come to Edinburgh."

A spokesman for the BBC said: "BBC news outlets covered the Edinburgh International Film Festival on radio, TV and online. Obviously, Glastonbury is a huge event and cannot be compared as like for like.

"However, in Scotland later in the summer there will be comprehensive coverage of the Edinburgh International Festival and T in the Park."

Following the awards ceremony, EIFF artistic director Hannah McGill said: "I'm delighted by these results and I thank our juries for their hard work and their presence in Edinburgh, which helped to make this year's Festival so exciting.

We have had a fantastic year and I'm thrilled that all of our prizewinners have been part of it, as well as, of course, all the other filmmakers."


ONE of the festival's hottest tickets, a sci-fi movie by debut director Duncan Jones, picked up the prestigious prize for best British film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

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Michael Powell Award winner Moon stars Sam Rockwell as an engineer nearing the end of a three-year solo mission in space, accompanied by a computer voiced by Kevin Spacey.

Jones, who flew from Moscow to collect his award with producer Stuart Fenegan, said: "We were here in Edinburghearlier in the festival for the premiere and had to come back pretty much at the drop of a hat when we heard we'd won.

"It's just phenomenal and we're absolutely gobsmacked, especially to get the award from Sir Sean." First-time actress Katie Jarvis, below, followed up her success at Cannes with the EIFF's award for best performance in a British film for her role as a troubled 15-year-old living in a cramped council flat in Andrea Arnold's second feature, Fish Tank.

She said: "It is a real honour to receive this award."

The audience award went to children's fairytale The Secret of Kells, while American comedy Humpday picked up the critics' prize.

Director Aliona Van Der Horst picked up the best documentary award for her feature on Russian poet Boris Ryzhy.

American director and writer Cary Jojo Fukunaga won the new director award for Sin Nombre, centred on Honduran girl Sayra and her links with a dangerous gang member.