Swaziland Comes To Edinburgh

Richard E Grant's Wah-Wah opens the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

by Kotleta

Picture of health: Richard E. Grant in Edinburgh

Picture of health: Richard E. Grant in Edinburgh

Edinburgh International Film Festival: diary, opening night.

It's August and I'm wearing painful strappy sandals, hangover sunglasses and want to vomit. It must be festival time.

With the sun in the sky and a whole host of celebrities to stalk, I went to the Wah-Wah press conference at the Sheraton to find out if Richard E Grant really does shop at Argos. Judging from his permatan glow of wealth and health, and the rather smart suit that looked expensively Italian, I would say not.

As you should know from reading The Wolf's review, Wah-Wah is the semi-autobiographical story of Grant's youth out in Swaziland. It's an ensemble piece with a cast who said that it was 'Terrifying, exciting, a huge experience...', 'the most enjoyable and satisfying experience I've ever had', and generally had a fabulous time all round. So no surprises there. How cool would it be if they all sat round glaring bitterly at each other and made barbed comments about wigs, personal hygiene and ill-fated 'relationships' with soap stars? Alas, it was not to be, and they looked more like friends than just people forced by circumstance to share air.

The stars were out in force, with an almost full cast turn out. Nicholas Hoult, fresh from the second film in which he had to sing with his eyes shut, looked alarmingly grown-up.

Emily Watson had the radiance of a woman who is seven and a half months pregnant and looking well on it and Gabriel Byrne seemed a bit bemused. When asked if he felt like a festival veteran, having attended last year as well, he rambled on a good bit about appearing in plays at the fringe yonks ago, and then remembered the question and asked, "I wasn't here last year, was I?" I can sympathise. So many parties, so little sleep. It's no wonder brain cells die.

Celia Imrie and Julie Walters sadly didn't make it, apparently due to work commitments - perhaps they couldn't get anyone to cover down at Acorn Antiques.

As is always the case when you are lazy and ill-prepared for these things, I couldn't think of any questions until ten minutes after it ended, when I really, really wanted to ask if any of Richard's family are still talking to him. Never mind. His Reel Life interview with Shane (who admits to having watched Spiceworld three times) is tomorrow afternoon, so if you find out - let me know.

The evening premiere was an arduous task for the cast, as they had a packed schedule of intros and bows to take. As we left the cinema and hopped on a bus to the party, they were still hard at it with another few shows to go.

The whisky flows

Famous Grouse is one of this year's festival sponsors, so we were greeted on arrival with a free ginger grouse cocktail. Well, we weren't because we walked right past them in blind pursuit of something to eat, but by the time I'd gone back and sampled three (or possibly five), I was starting to lose my aversion to whisky.

The party had a sixties cocktail theme which was only embraced by the brave and foolhardy few, but there was enough drinking and dancing to compensate for the sad lack of safari suits and hippies. Further to the slebcount, I spotted Brian Cox, Ray from River City, Keith who made 'The Devil's Miner', and a man who looked like Will Young but was actually just someone in a stupid hat. Esther from the Cornerhouse cinema in Manchester (celebrating their 20th anniversary this year) also spotted lookalikes of Paris Hilton and Farah Fawcett Majors, but I wasn't convinced. It was a bit dark though, so half of Hollywood might have been standing beside us and we just didn't notice.

Lots of films to see and press conferences to be late for, so ciao for now.

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