The Edinburgh International Film Festival 60th Birthday Party

The stars dress down, while we dress up to share the sights and sounds of the best birthday bash in ages.

by Chris Docker

Patron of the Edinburgh Film Festival and international star Sir Sean Connery arrives at the party

Patron of the Edinburgh Film Festival and international star Sir Sean Connery arrives at the party

I had only planned to cover the Red Carpet. Standing in the cold for several hours waiting for the stars to arrive. Then, at the very last minute, I found myself as a guest, rubbing shoulders with the ever-so-famous, trying to remember if I had ironed my shirt should I decide to take the jacket off.

Imagine balancing your glass of champers as they stroll in - Tilda Swinton, Charlize Theron, Brian de Palma, Ian Rankin, Robbie Coltrane, John Hurt, Gabriel Byrne, Steven Soderberg, and your host, Sir Sean Connery ("Ooo - he's like . . . royalty!" Charlize had gasped girlishly beforehand)... Now imagine you are in a 19th Century building where one of the trappings alone would cost more than a lottery win to buy.

"Could you move about a foot further forward, please, Sir?" one of the elegant security guards asked after eyeing me for a minute or two. I was standing delicately close to a priceless Titian, the real object of her attention. Tonight, the National Gallery of Scotland housed not only the nation's greatest treasures, but two free bars, a jazz band, and the leading lights of the cinematic industry.

"Are you going to take one home with you?" I joked to Kevin Smith. In spite of the semi-formal 'glitter' dress code, he was wearing his famous 'Silent Bob' overcoat, that looked as if it could accommodate a painting or two. "I'm gonna try," he replied, with intense solemnity. It struck me that what stood out about this comic genius, whose Clerks II was hitting the top of the Audience Award poll as we spoke, was not so much his eccentric dress habits but that he was the only person there all night who took the locale seriously. I swear he went round and studied every painting with the deep respect and obliviousness to surroundings usually reserved for students of fine art.

One of the nicest treats when it comes to such magnificent events has to be the beautiful couture. Ms Theron, unostentatious but calmly serene, wore a magnificent clingy brown and cream dress, patterned with black lace effect, her slight figure contrasting with the powerful roles she often takes on in her films. Many of the male stars were more casual, Robbie Coltrane, John Hurt and Ian Rankin all looking very laid back. One famous director just came in jeans. The more famous you are, the more liberties you can take, I guess. Black suit and tie, worn by lesser-knowns such as myself, was definitely bottom of the pecking order.

By midnight I was kissing hands that still had champagne glasses in them. However decorous seeming, the pace has been frantic for most people. One well-known and very elegant lady, whose name I am far too gentlemanly to mention, confided how she had changed into her beautiful black dress in a public toilet.

Never wanting to be the last to leave, I headed for the door and caught the late night romp at the Cameo. Of course, there are no taxis anywhere at 2am and all the night buses pass the stops approximately 30 seconds before you get there. I find the way home eventually though. Nearly there, I get chatting to two charming ladies who are asking directions for Glasgow. Naturally we asked each other how the evening had gone. "We were supposed to be at some party, but didn't make it. My husband wrote the music for a movie that's just premiered and we got invited . . ." (she waves one of the harder-to-get than chocolate-coated gold bullion tickets). "Was it any good..?"

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