Festival Diary: Film Festival parties on in the absence of Colin Farrell

If the return of the August festivals has been a joy this year, there’s been extra cause for celebration with the return of the film festival to the fold after a hiatus of more than a decade.

Actor Justin H. Min on the red carpet at the After Yang closing gala at the film festival. Picture: Lloyd Smith
Actor Justin H. Min on the red carpet at the After Yang closing gala at the film festival. Picture: Lloyd Smith

Diaries were cleared by movers and shakers across the festivals for its big opening and closing parties, kicking off at the National Museum and ending at Dynamic Earth.

The latter was so far off the usual beaten track for August in Edinburgh that attendees emerging from the screening of After Yang at the Omni Centre were offered the chance to download a map and a walking route highlighting how to get there.

But the trek did nothing to deter a bumper crowd from flocking to the scientific attraction, where guests could learn all about the evolution of the planet in between catching up with festival chums.

Although live visual art, dance displays and Chinese snacks were among the attractions the biggest queue was for the tea leaf readings.

Although his presence was never confirmed, there was maybe some disappointment about Colin Farrell’s absence from the After Yang gala.

American actor Justin H Min, who plays the robotic child in the film, did make it.

He told the audience: “Hi everyone, it's me, Colin Farrell. I do realise I do look a little different.

“Colin would love to have been here, but he’s still taking off the prosthetics from the Batman movie.”

A measure of how much has changed in Edinburgh since the dark days of Covid restrictions is that Professor Devi Sridhar, one of Scotland’s leading experts on the pandemic, is not only appearing before packed audiences herself, but crowd-sourcing tips on Twitter for shows to attend.

Among the recommendations was Jim Campbell's close-up magic show at the Pleasance Courtyard. He has been a familiar face there for more than decade after initially winning over the venue staff with his impromptu tricks, then getting permission to go around its tables entertaining festivalgoers.

Campbell, who now has “resident magician” status at the courtyard, has had an affection for the famous venue going back even further.

He says: “When I was in my early twenties, a friend were trying to cobble together enough change to get a half pint each. Suddenly, a gentleman who had clearly been watching us, leant over and handed us a twenty pound note, saying he had had a good night, and insisted that we took it.”

An epic love story is being recalled at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, where Maria MacDonell's show Miss Lindsay's Secret is based on the discovery of a real-life collection of intimate love letters found hidden in a box behind a cabinet in the Glenesk Folk Museum in Angus.

Billed as a true story of “sewing and 1900s sexting,” it explores the long-distance relationship between Minnie Lindsay and her childhood sweetheart Alexander Middleton, who emigrated to Canada at the height of the Klondike gold rush.

Among the audience to tell MacDonell about the impact the show has made on them was one young man who said it had made him make up his own mind to relocate to Vancouver after seven years in a long-term relationship.

She said: “His eyes were glistening. I told him ‘take care of that love.’”

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