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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Festival films in the frame
Sean and Robin Penn
Sean Penn and his wife Robin will appear at the festival
Edinburgh's 55th International Film Festival has unveiled its programme for this year at an event in the city.

It will show more than 100 films from around the world and conduct master classes with some of cinema's top talent during a 15-day run in August.

This year's festival is the last under the artistic direction of Lizzie Francke.

She said the programme is very "accessible" and that it has an important place during Edinburgh's festival season.

Dougray Scott
Dougray Scott: Star of Enigma
Ms Francke said: "The film festival brings glamour. It brings filmmakers from around the world. It's a chance for Edinburgh audiences to sample things they would not have a chance to sample. Or to sample them first before anyone else.

"It's a chance for Edinburgh audiences to meet filmmakers. It's a great fun, two-week party.

"The key thing is the film. The films are the stars of the festival."

Hollywood stars expected to attend the festival include Sean Penn and his wife Robin.

Penn has directed an ensemble cast including Jack Nicholson, in The Pledge which will be shown during the festival.

The key thing is the film. The films are the stars of the festival

Festival director Lizzie Francke
British stars Dougray Scott, Jeremy Northam and Saffron Burrows are expected to appear in the city for a showing of Enigma, directed by Michael Apted.

The blockbuster adaptation of the Robert Harris bestseller stars Kate Winslet, who is unable to attend.

The festival opens on Sunday 12 August with Jean-Pierre Jeunet's enchanting adventure, Amelie, starring Audrey Tautou.

Ms Francke claims it will be the big hit of the year, reproducing the success of Oscar-nominated foreign language film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Director of opening film

John McCormick, chairman of the film festival board, said the festival's reputation had grown in recent years, adding: "We are bringing people together who want to invest in film, people who have a script, people who want to make a film.

"And in the atmosphere of this festival in August, certain things happen which help to develop the film industry in Scotland.

"That has helped to ensure that it is now regarded in the top 10 of film festivals around the world for doing business within the film industry.

Big name stars

"That is important for the film industry here in the UK."

Closing the Festival this year will be Wit, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Emma Thompson.

It is an adaptation of Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play.

The Reel Life section of the programme presents a series of interviews with big name stars and film craftsmen, including actor Sean Penn and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of Delicatessen and Alien Resurrection.

British films include Lucky Break from Peter Cattaneo, the director of The Full Monty, and starring James Nesbitt, Olivia Williams, Timothy Spall, Bill Nighy and Christopher Plummer.

Crush is a romantic comedy starring Andie MacDowell of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame.

Short film director

Award-winning short film director Asif Kapadia makes a feature debut with The Warrior.

And, from Billy Elliot screenwriter Lee Hall, there is Gabriel and Me, starring Scottish actors Billy Connolly and Iain Glenn.

One film promising to be a festival talking point is The Silent Killer.

Shot throughout Glasgow and featuring non-actors, it paints a horrifying picture of the experience of asylum seekers.

Shane Danielsen will take over as artistic director in September 2001.

See also:

12 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Björk and Kylie's trip to Edinburgh
13 Aug 00 | Scotland
Film festival 'welcomes Clooney'
26 Aug 99 | Edinburgh Festival 99
Gregory goes back to school
25 Aug 99 | Edinburgh Festival 99
Blair Witch hits the UK
19 Aug 99 | Edinburgh Festival 99
Brosnan crowns film festival
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