Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 19:03 UK

Mendes movie opens film festival

Sam Mendes and John Krasinski
Mendes says he was "delighted" to be in Edinburgh

The 63rd Edinburgh International Film Festival has opened with the world premiere of Away We Go, the new movie by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes.

The 43-year-old filmmaker said he chose to take his movie to the Scottish festival for a good reason.

"I particularly didn't want to take the film to Cannes; I think the scale of that festival is overpowering."

The filmmaker, who is married to Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet, said he was "delighted" to be in Edinburgh.

Top names attending the opening gala included Sir Sean Connery, Alan Cumming and Frost/Nixon star Frank Langella - who is one of the judges for the Michael Powell Award for Best British film at the festival.

Mendes, famed for directing such box office hits as American Beauty and Revolutionary Road, said Edinburgh was a "fantastic" place to be.

He suggested that his film was well-suited to the festival.

"I love Edinburgh. I've been here many times as a student and afterwards on the Fringe and it just seemed like a great match," he said.

"I'm just happy to be here and delighted that its British premiere gets to be here rather than in some giant red carpet event where the whole thing is dwarfed by the publicity machine, as it were, of the festival as a whole.

"Maybe movies like this get a better look-in in a place like this and I'm very happy to be here."

Away We Go will open the film festival

Away We Go, with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, will open the festival

The film follows an expectant couple's journey across the US as they search for the perfect place to raise their family.

It stars Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal and John Krasinski, who appears in the US version of The Office.

Mendes paid tribute to his wife at a media conference in the Scottish capital, saying "the movie could not have been made without her".

"She supports me in everything I do," he said.

The festival will host 23 world premieres, including 16 international premieres, and 135 films from 33 countries - from now until June 28.

Highlights include the world premiere of Le Donk, the new Shane Meadows movie, which features the Arctic Monkeys, and the European premiere of Steven Soderberg's The Girlfriend Experience.

Director of The Wrestler, Darren Aronofsky, will be hosting an In Person session during the festival, as will legendary B-movie maker Roger Corman and elusive Scottish filmmaker Bill Forsyth.

Art film

BBC Radio Five Live's Simon Mayo and film critic Mark Kermode will present their own brand of Wittertainment during a live audience event on Friday.

Artistic director Hannah McGill said it was difficult to choose the highlights from such a packed programme, however, she admitted The Crimson Wing, a portrait of the life cycles of flamingos in Tanzania, was a personal favourite.

She added: "I'm thrilled to be bringing two of my favourite actors, Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, to Edinburgh for the UK premiere of Carlos Cuaron's Rudo & Cursi.

"I'm yet more thrilled that the great Joe Dante, director of Gremlins and Innerspace and Matinee, and now 3D pioneer, is going to be on hand - that's my 80s childhood coming out.

"Then there's Sharmila Tagore, one of the legends of both arms of Indian cinema: Bengali art film and commercial Bollywood cinema.

"She was the glamour girl of Indian cinema in the 60s."

"And I'm overwhelmed that Mary Sweeney, the genius who edited the vast bulk of David Lynch's films, has given us the world premiere of her directorial debut, Baraboo."

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