Sylvain Chomet was in Edinburgh last night to introduce the UK premiere of his Scottish themed animated feature, The Illusionist, which opened the 64th Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The French director, who relocated to Edinburgh for several years after his first feature The Triplets Of Belleville screened at the festival in 2004, described the premiere as a “fantastic moment at the end of five years of my life.”

Paying tribute to Edinburgh, Chomest said: “I fell in love with the city and the people, and every time I come to Scotland it’s like coming back to see my family.”

The gala screening took place at the EIFF’s new venue, the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. A fitting opening to the festival, the film follows an old magician as he treks from Paris to the Western Isles of Scotland and then to Edinburgh, and is based on an original script by Jacques Tati. It had its world premiere in Berlin.

Also in attendance at the EIFF opening night gala was Patrick Stewart, who is heading up the festival’s Michael Powell Jury, and the festival’s patron Sean Connery.  

Artistic director Hannah McGill, who spoke before the screening, said there had “never been an opening film that has had so much anticipation,” whilst EIFF chairman Iain Smith said that the festival was “going from strength to strength.”

The screening was followed by a black tie after party at Edinburgh’s Teviot Row House, where guests were treated to bagpipes, showgirls, fish and chips, Scottish cheeses and Glenmorangie whisky.

The festival runs until June 27, when the closing night gala screening will be Hattie Dalton’s Third Star.