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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Star turns at Scots film festival
Gael Garcia Bernal in The Motorcycle Diaries
Gael Garcia Bernal stars in The Motorcycle Diaries
Comic Billy Connolly was a surprise guest at the opening night of the Edinburgh Film Festival.

He was among the audience for the screening of The Motorcycle Diaries, about a road trip taken by Ernesto "Che" Guevara across South America.

Director Walter Salles was among those gracing the red carpet.

The film festival, which runs alongside the Edinburgh Festival, will play host to 45 UK premieres and hundreds of screenings before it ends on 29 August.

The Motorcycle Diaries is based on Guevara's autobiographical travel book and the memories of his friend and travel companion Alberto Granado.

The 4,000 mile trip was taken when Guevara was 23 and finishing his medical studies, before he began on his revolutionary path.

Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal has already been winning plaudits for his portrayal of the iconic figure.

'Desire for cinema'

Director Salles flew in for the VIP screening at Edinburgh's UGC Cinema where other guests included Trainspotting actor Ewan Bremner, author Ian Rankin and actor and writer Stephen Berkoff.

Salles said: "I have been hearing so much about the festival, not only thanks to the newspapers, but thanks to other filmmakers and actors who have been here before.

"It is a filmmaker's festival and that makes all the difference.

"Edinburgh is the best possible place you could dream of.

"This one film was made with so much passion and desire for cinema that it is just it finds its place in a festival that has the same principles."

Comic Connelly tried to make a quiet entrance at the gala screening, attempting to enter through a different entrance before he was spotted by media and fans and persuaded to walk up the red carpet with wife Pamela Stephenson.

He said he had only arrived in Scotland the previous day but was delighted to be able to attend the event.

"I like the festival generally. I like the entire festival, including the film festival.

"Any old excuse to be in Edinburgh at this time is great for me."

He told fans he hoped to return to Scotland to tour in the near future.

He said: "I'm doing London in September/October and then Australia.

"I would like to do it next year. It's been a long time, about six years or something."

Thursday night sees the UK premiere of Super Size Me, which follows director Morgan Spurlock's story of eating nothing but McDonald's food for a month.

The film highlights the health problems he suffered after just a short period, while examining the fast food culture in the US.

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