Edinburgh rolls credits for film festival

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The comedian Billy Connolly and the Hollywood actor/ director Sean Penn are two of the stars due to attend this year's Edinburgh Film Festival.

The 55th festival, which runs from 12 to 26 August, will feature more than 100 films including 20 world premières. The appearance of Connolly – who was awarded an honorary degree yesterday by Glasgow University – coincides with the release of his latest film, Gabriel and Me, by the Billy Elliot screenwriter, Ben Hall.

Penn – whose new film The Pledge, starring Jack Nicholson, Benicio Del Toro and Vanessa Redgrave, will have its UK première at the festival – is to present a masterclass on the movie-making art.

Other anticipated highlights include Amelie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, which will be given its first screening outside France, and the première of Wit, starring Emma Thompson as a poetry professor given four months to live.

Lizzie Francke, the event's artistic director, said: "The festival provides a chance to reflect on all the pleasures and pains of existence – the raw way of how it is, along with the fantasy of how it should be."