CULTURE: Stellar Visitors Confirm the Status of the Festival; Some of the Finest Screen Stars Flocked to This Year's Edinburgh International Film Festival, Which Ended Yesterday. Roger Shannon Selects Highlights from the Event

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Shannon

This year's Edinburgh International Film Festival (August 14 - 28), was bustling with A list film celebrities including directors Brian De Palma and Steven Soderbergh, who came hot from the set of Oceans 13' actresses Charlize Theron and Sigourney Weaver, and topping the lot, Scotland's best known film star and fully signed up member of the Hollywood clan, Sir Sean Connery.

The festival was celebrating its 60th continuous year, its programme and stellar visitors confirming its status, alongside the London Film Festival, as one of the UK's key events for the celebration of the art and craft of international movie making.

For those interested in UK cinema, the Edinburgh Film Festival is a fantastic showcase of discovery, uncovering and premiering new movies by the next generation of film makers.

One such film maker is Wol-verhampton's Matthew Cope, whose short film, The Visit, funded by regional screen agency, Screen West Midlands, was shown in celebration of new UK film making talent.

Sean Connery was on hand to support the festival's opening film, The Flying Scotsman, the true story of Graeme Obree, the Scottish amateur cyclist who in 1993 broke the world hour record on a bike made from parts rescued from a BMX bike and a washing machine. Jonny Lee Miller plays the obsessed and depression-tortured cyclist in this tale of sports inspiration and the overcoming of personal demons. Three laps of Chariots of Fire to one of Beautiful Mind.

One of the most striking films receiving a world premiere at Edinburgh was The Killing of John Lennon.

This film, written and directed by Andrew Pidding-ton, examines the life of Mark Chapman, whose obsessions with both The Beatles and Catcher in the Rye took him to New York in 1980 to gun down the ex Beatle outside the Dakota building.

Producer Rakha Singh said the film was a "psychological examination of a celebrity stalker's descent into madness and is based on real interviews with Chapman".

Both director and producer are film makers who cut their teeth in Birmingham at Central Television's documentary film department. …