Festival makes last minute addition with 3D screening of Disney’s The Lion King as closing film

The 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) opened last night (June 15) with the UK premiere of Irish comedy The Guard.

The film’s director, John Michael McDonagh, was at the well-received screening which took place at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre.

But with no red carpet the tone was considerably more low-key than in previous years. The film’s two leads, Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle were not in attendance and the theatre was only two-thirds full, compared with last year’s opener The Illusionist, which played to a packed auditorium. There was also an unfortunate technical blip during the screening of the film, which nevertheless proved to be a popular opening night choice with the audience.

Gavin Miller, CEO for the festival’s parent company, The Centre for the Moving Image, introduced the night telling the audience that the festival “absolutely remains at the heart of everything we do for Edinburgh, for Scotland and the wider world”.

EIFF director James Mullighan went on to thank Mark Cousins, Lynda Myles and Tilda Swinton “for their invaluable support, programming contribution and advice”. Cousins and Myles were in the audience but, as previously reported, Swinton will not be attending the festival because of filming commitments.

Also in attendance was former artistic director Hannah McGill.

Speaking to Screen at the after-party held at Edinburgh’s student union Mullighan said he stood by his decision to abandon red carpet events at the festival. “I really can’t recall a conversation where anyone thinks it’s a bad idea. We may not be providing a piece of material called a red carpet, but we are still providing an attitude.”

Meanwhile, organisers announced yesterday that the festival would be showing the first 3D screening of Disney’s The Lion King on the closing day of the EIFF (June 25). Previously Mullighan had said that there would not be an official “closing film” and he told Screen that this had not changed.

“The diversity of the programme meant that it was a lot easier to pick a film to open and almost impossible to pick a film to close.”

Also screening on the closing day is Danfung Dennis’ war documentary Hell And Back Again and concert documentary Talihina Sky: The Story Of Kings Of Leon, which is being distributed by Revolver Entertainment.