A British film which casts Cuban ballet star Carlos Acosta as a lead – and saw him play an integral role in securing film rights in his home country – premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Independent romantic drama Day of the Flowers wasdirected by BAFTA award winning director John Roberts.

The film sees two sisters-at-odds, portrayed by Eva Birthistle and Charity Wakefield, travel from their native Glasgow to the streets of Cuba on a family quest. One of the many characters they meet on their journey is Tomas, played by Acosta.

The ballet star’s participation helped the filmmakers secure shooting permission in Cuba – not the simplest of tasks.

“It wasn’t easy and there were times when we weren’t sure we would be able to do it,” said John Roberts. “We took the film to ICAIC, the Cuban Film institute, and they liked the script. With Carlos also on board we were able to do a production deal with ICAIC and we were given permission to film.”

Discussing the casting of Acosta in the film, Roberts added: “Most people will know Carlos for his ballet. He has a background of touring internationally with the National Ballet of Cuba and Royal Ballet so this was new for him. I think people will be surprised at this role. We deliberately didn’t focus too much on his dancing.”