EIFF 1999: Day 1

Opening Night of the Edinburgh International Film Festival

by Trinity

The festival didn't start entirely smoothly as chairman John McCormick got Sir David Steel's name wrong in front of the audience assembled for the premiere of Ratcatcher last night. Director Lynne Ramsey, not the tallest of people, had a few difficulties trying to reach the microphone, but the film was received well.

Some of the child stars of the film were a little shy, but not as bad as Robert Carlyle, who appeared at the opening night party in a scruffy leather jacket (dress code: "gorgeous") was fawned over by many females and left rather abruptly. Probably a good thing because soon after, the free alcohol ran out and everyone from staff to celebrities had to queue for a minimum of half an hour to get a drink.

The party was held in the Edinburgh College of Art, a large classical open space, which took some time filling. Nevertheless, festival producer Ginnie Atkinson and director Lizzie Francke showed by example, getting down to some serious boogieing. But there were no moves from ex-director of the EIFF, Mark Cousins, who had already put his knee out, apparently while strutting his stuff at a previous party.

Filmhouse boss Ken Ingles got the award for outstanding effort with his own take on the theme: a stuffed rat on his shoulder. Best successful gatecrashing line was: "I'm here with the Princess of Norway: Will you let me in?" It was, and they did.

Various other familiar faces from the worlds of film, TV and comedy made appearances, but the festival staff were having such a good time that they managed to leave E J-Yong, the director of acclaimed feature, An Affair, and first time visitor to Edinburgh, stranded without a clue where his hotel was. He had been whisked from airport to hotel to party so quickly that he couldn't even remember the general direction. It begins with "S", it's old, it's on five floors. Any ideas? No, neither did I. Luckily a film festival bod was discovered who had the hotel phone number.

Despite the earlier long queues for booze, as the night progressed it started to feel like a real party and, at the end, everyone joined in for a knees-up to "New York, New York". Roll on the festival!

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