Edinburgh film festival debut for a local heroine

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THE RISE of Scottish cinema as an international force will be marked tomorrow when, for the first time in its 53-year history, the Edinburgh International Film Festival opens with a debut feature from a Scottish director.

Lynne Ramsay, 29, will present Ratcatcher to the world's longest running film festival, beating 300 films from 40 countries for the honour. It is her first full-length film and looks at a strike in the Seventies by Glasgow's refuse workers through the eyes of a young boy.

The film, which combines grim Ken Loach-like urban scenes with ecstatic shots of 12 -year-old James running through a sun-drenched cornfield, is judged "outstanding" by the festival's director, Lizzie Francke.

"Lynne is like a young Jane Campion," Ms Francke said. "This year is a highly significant one for Scotland internationally, given the new Parliament, and Ratcatcher's prominence reflects that importance."

Scotland is currently the location of several major films, notably House of Mirth - starring Gillian Anderson of The X-Files - for which Glasgow doubles up as Monte Carlo and New York. In Dumbarton, Robert Duvall has been shooting The Cup, starring Billy Connolly and Sir Alex Ferguson, about a struggling Scottish football team.

John Sinclair Blythe, pitched as the next Ewan McGregor, is starring in Hold Back the Night, about three people travelling from England to Orkney to see the sun rise.

Edinburgh's film festival will also host the world premiere of Gregory's Two Girls, sequel to Bill Forsyth's 1979 hit about a school in Cumbernauld, Strathclyde, which broke the taboo on portraying Scotland's harsher new- town culture instead of just the biscuit-box, tartan, Highland image. However, Scotland still lacks a major production studio, which has meant manoeuvres such as that for Braveheart, which although shot around Glen Nevis, was moved to Ireland for final production and period scenes.

Sony Entertainment and Sean Connery, who is patron of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, is fighting against another Glasgow-based group, Scottish Film Studio Partnership, to be the first to establish proper facilities within Scotland.

Scottish Film Studio Partnership recently unveiled plans to invest pounds 88m in a studio and hotel complex, to be sited in Perthshire, between the Gleneagles Hotel and a nearby private school. This would be modelled on Ardmore Studios in Ireland, where a film industry has grown up in the last decade.

Yesterday, Tony Antoniou, spokesman for Scottish Film Studio Partnership, said the success of pictures such as Rob Roy, Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, had convinced doubters that there was now a commercial case for Scottish studios that could rival the existing handful of centres in Britain, such as Pinewood or Shepperton in England.

Leading article,

Review, page 3

Edinburgh festival, Review, page 8