The animated film will have a gala screening at Festival Theatre on June 16.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival will open with a gala screening at the new Festival Theatre of Sylvain Chomet’s animated feature The Illusionist on June 16.

The UK-French co-production is Chomet’s follow-up to his international hit The Triplets of Belleville. The Illusionist had its world premiere at the Berlinale and will have its UK premiere at EIFF.

Fittingly, the film is a fantastical depiction of Scotland – following the story of an old magician and a young girl. Jacques Tati wrote the original script.

Chomet, who will attend the opening night, 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.”

EIFF artistic director Hannah McGill added: “The landscapes of Scotland and Edinburgh have never looked more beautiful than they do in The Illusionist.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.” 

Warner Bros Pictures UK will handle the UK release (later in 2010) on behalf of Pathe. The Illusionist is a Pathe presentation of a Django Films project in association with Cine b.

EIFF runs June 16-27.