McGregor leads the line as Eastwood movie is pulled

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The Independent Culture

The opening of the Edinburgh International Film Festival last night was marred by the sudden decision of Clint Eastwood to block the screening of his latest movie.

Mystic River, a tale of loyalty, retribution and the impact of paedophilia directed by Eastwood and starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne and Tim Robbins, was to be a main attraction of the two-week event.

But despite good reviews when it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in France earlier this year, the movie's distributors Warner Brothers pulled it at the last minute.

Officially both Warner Brothers and the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) have blamed "unforeseen scheduling commitments" for the late decision to withdraw the movie from its scheduled screenings on 21 and 22 August. However, it has been claimed that Eastwood was unhappy with the post-production of the movie and had asked the company to cancel planned screenings of the film at Edinburgh and elsewhere, including the Deauville Festival in France, until he had made the changes he wanted.

"We must unfortunately pull Mystic River from the EIFF due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts," said a spokeswoman yesterday.

"We will not be compromising our programme and therefore have decided not to replace Mystic River.

"Obviously we regret that we will not be showing this film at the festival but we fully understand and respect the reasons for its withdrawal."

Although it wasa bitter blow for the EIFF, now in its 57th year and the longest continually running festival of its kind in the world, organisers promised there was still a lot to enjoy.

One of the highlights included the premiere of Young Adam, starring Ewan McGregor, which opened the programme last night. It is the second year in a row in which a Scottish-made film has opened the festival.

Based on a book by the cult Scottish author Alexander Trocchi and set in Glasgow in the 1950s, Young Adam centres on a young drifter played by McGregor who becomes embroiled in a police investigation when a young woman's body is found in a canal.

Although McGregor was not at the premiere, his co-star Peter Mullan was, along with acclaimed director Jim Sheridan, the Scots author Ian Rankin, and Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell. Shane Danielsen, the film festival's artistic director, said: "We're obviously extremely thrilled - first of all to be opening with a film in which we have absolute faith, but also to be finally doing what it is we've been preparing for all year."

Over the next two weeks more than 100 films from around the world are due to be shown as part of the festival, which has already seen ticket sales rise by more than 20 per cent on last year.

Steve McIntyre, of Scottish Screen, hailed the decision of the festival organisers to open with a home-grown production. He said: "Last year was a very good one for the film industry in Scotland."

"What's happened is that we now have a number of directors, writers and producers, all of which are able to punch above their weight and pull the deals together to make a consistent flow of good quality Scottish films."