The Illusionist to open Edinburgh Film Festival

Sylvain Chomet's animation kicks off 64th edition

by Amber Wilkinson

Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist will be the opening gala at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The animated feature follow up to Chomet's debut Triplets Of Rendezvous, is based on the original script by French comic legend Jacques Tati and is a "delightful fairy-tale depiction of Scotland".

The story concerns an outdated, ageing magician, who travels to Edinburgh from Paris via Glasgow and the Western Isles in search of a venue to perform his act. His path crosses that of Alice, a young Scottish girl whose capacity for childish wonder remains intact. Their destinies will collide and send them on a voyage of discovery that nothing – not even magic or the power of illusion – can stop.

EIFF Artistic Director, Hannah McGill, said: “The landscapes of Scotland and Edinburgh have never looked more beautiful.

"This is a truly spellbinding work of art by a unique talent who we are delighted to welcome back to the Festival. We are looking forward to a terrific opening night that will draw the eyes of the world and showcase Scotland as the perfect stage for international cultural events.”

To honour the film, the UK premiere will take place at the Festival Theatre on Wednesday June 16, the inaugural premiere at this recently announced new venue - Scotland’s largest cinema. Sylvain Chomet will attend, heralding his return to the EIFF: his visit to the Festival in 2003 inspired both his relocation to Edinburgh and the setting for The Illusionist.

Director Sylvain Chomet said: "Things have come full circle for me. I first discovered Edinburgh during a visit in 2003 when my film The Triplets of Belleville had its UK premiere at the Film Festival. I moved here shortly afterwards to set up my studio with my wife Sally and make another movie.

"During my time living in Scotland I travelled widely around the country by boat and by train and drew inspiration from the breathtaking landscape. Over the past five years this inspiration has been painstakingly poured back into the picture and the soundtrack of The Illusionist and I am delighted today that the fruits of our labour will be the opening film of this year's EIFF."

The film will go on general release across the UK later in 2010.

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