THE SCOTSMAN - Scotland has starring role as film world descends on Cannes

17th May 2007

THE 60th Cannes Film Festival opened last night with a big-screen kiss between Norah Jones and Jude Law, and all the usual red-carpet fanfare that goes with the event.

But alongside the big-budget movies and Hollywood A-listers such as Jones and Law - there for the world premiere of My Blueberry Nights - are several films with a distinct Scottish flavour.

While Britain has no entries in any of the festival's competition sections, several films shot in and around Scotland are among those vying for attention on the fringes of the event.

And Scotland is making a brave attempt to fly the Saltire with its presence under the Scottish Screen banner within the British Pavilion, the tented village that sprawls along the back of the Palais des Festivals.

The pavilion is the setting next Tuesday for the Scottish party - one of the most convivial affairs in town - in tandem with the Edinburgh International Film Festival, whose new director, Hannah McGill, will be there to glad-hand the great and the good.

This year's Cannes will see the screening of the festival's first Gaelic film, Seachd - The Inaccessible Pinnacle.

Chris Young, a veteran of Cannes who lives in Skye, and the writer-director Simon Miller collaborated with Gaelic writers, co- directors, amateur actors, crew, vocalists and musicians to create a film set in modern-day Gaelic Scotland.

"Seachd is about the power of storytelling and its power to change and enrich us," he said.

The soundtrack by Jim Sutherland features some of the greatest living Gaelic vocalists and musicians, along with the sound of ancient and modern Gaelic instruments such as the carnyx, the triplepipes and the clàrsach.

David Mackenzie, who made Young Adam and Asylum, is on the lookout for buyers for Hallam Foe, first seen at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, which has two shows this week. Based on the novel by Peter Jinks, it features Jamie Bell, of Billy Elliott fame, as the title character who is on a quest to expose the true cause of his mother's death; he instead finds himself searching the rooftops of the city of Edinburgh for love.

Scenic Scotland will be shown in Mister Lonely, a Scottish-French co-production, with scenes shot around Plockton, in Ross-shire. The film, written by Harmony Korine, is about celebrity impersonators who meet in an old people's home near Paris before moving to a commune in the Highlands.

Stardust - an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel - includes some scenes shot in Wester Ross. Full of witches, pirates, ghosts and kings, its cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Peter O'Toole, Ian McKellen and Ricky Gervais.

In the festival's Short Film Corner, where Scotland has picked up glittering prizes in the past, notably for Daddy's Girl by Irvine Allan in 2001, there are three Scottish offerings: Forgotten Souls, River Child and Elvis, How Great Thou Art.

The centrepiece of the 60th anniversary celebrations will take place on Sunday, and will include a screening of Chacun Son Cinéma, the omnibus film with short contributions from 35 film-makers, including Roman Polanski and Ken Loach.

Traditional glamour has not been neglected, with the out-of-competition screening of Ocean's Thirteen, with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon in attendance, while Angelina Jolie will be here with A Mighty Heart, Michael Winterbottom's study of the murder of the journalist Daniel Pearl. Leonardo DiCaprio is bringing his eco-documentary The 11th Hour, while Daniel Craig is putting in an appearance for a special preview of The Golden Compass.

Renegade Michael Moore is likely to cause a stir to rival the sensational debut of Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004, with Sicko, a film about health care in the United States.

By Richard Mowe in Cannes


The Edge of Heaven - The second part of German director Faith Akin's trilogy.

My Blueberry Nights - Wong Kar-wai's first English language film.

No Country for Old Men - Joel and Ethan Coen's latest, based on a Pulitzer prize-winning novel.

Paranoid Park - Gus Van Sant returns to the scene of previous successes.

Promise Me This- Emir Kusturica relates the tale of a young man who tries to track down his missing wife.

We Own the Night - James Gray's film starring Joaquin Phoenix.