Page last updated at 07:36 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 08:36 UK

Sam Mendes to open film festival

Sam Mendes
Sam Mendes won an Oscar for American Beauty

The Edinburgh International Film Festival will open with the premiere of a film by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes, it has been announced.

The 63rd EIFF, which will run from 17 to 28 June, will begin with Mendes's latest offering Away we go.

The 43-year-old, who is married to actress Kate Winslet, won the best director Oscar in 2000 for his film American Beauty.

The full programme for the festival will be released next month.

Away we go follows the journey across contemporary America of an expectant couple, as they travel in search of the perfect place to put down roots and raise their family.

Several of the film's stars, including Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal and John Krasinski (star of the US version of The Office), are expected to accompany Mendes to the Opening Gala on 17 June.

EIFF artistic director Hannah McGill, said: "We're absolutely delighted to open the festival with a wonderful film that marks a distinct change of pace for one of Britain's most celebrated contemporary directors, Sam Mendes.

"Away we go is the perfect Opening Night for Edinburgh: funny, positive and smart, and a film I'm incredibly proud to present to our audiences."

Mendes said: "I was last in Edinburgh in 1987 at the Fringe, and most nights the cast outnumbered the audience. So I'm really looking forward to returning - hopefully to a full house."

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