The red carpet at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre came to life yesterday evening for a magical Opening Night Gala at the 2010 Edinburgh International Film Festival.
As guests arrived for the UK Premiere of The Illusionist, the beautiful animated feature by Academy Award® nominated filmmaker Sylvain Chomet, which was made and set predominantly in the Scottish capital, they were greeted on the red carpet by a glittering display of showgirls, stilt-walkers and tumbling strongmen.
Arrivals at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, a venue used for the first time by EIFF for their Opening Night Gala, were accompanied by the eight-piece Horndog Brass Band which entertained the huge crowds that lined Nicolson Street who had turned out to catch a glimpse of some of the famous faces walking down the red carpet.
The film’s director Sylvain Chomet and producers Bob Last and Sally Chomet, were joined by an array of stars from the world of film including EIFF Patrons Sir Sean Connery and Seamus McGarvey; star of stage and screen Sir Patrick Stewart; actress Britt Ekland; Ugly Betty star America Ferrera; writer Nick Hornby; Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs; comedian and filmmaker Ben Miller; director Mike Hodges; Scottish film director and writer Bill Forsyth; Scottish comedian and actor Craig Hill and Minister of Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop MSP.
The Film Festival has been generously supported by Event Scotland to showcase Scotland as the perfect stage for international cultural events.
Once inside the theatre, the audience was treated to a display by showgirls and a magician performing in the boxes of the historic auditorium, before Chomet stepped on stage to introduce his film, described by many who have seen it as a 'love letter to Edinburgh'.
The choice of Festival Theatre as the venue for the UK’s first screening of The Illusionist is particularly poignant due to an event that occurred there almost one hundred years ago when there was a disastrous fire on stage during a performance by The Great Lafayette, one of the world’s most prominent illusionists.
The theatre was full to its three thousand seat capacity when disaster struck as The Great Lafayette took his bow, and a stage lamp fell and ignited a stage-drape.
Every member of the audience walked to safety, but eleven people died in the devastating fire, including The Great Lafayette. It is rumored that his ghost still haunts the auditorium.
Following the screening of the film, partygoers were asked to follow Louise Marshall Millington Scottish Piper who led them to Bristo Square where there was more entertainment, in front of the impressive Teviot Row House.
Inside the party stretched over four levels, each room providing revellers with a selection of entertainment, food and drinks. In the Underground Bar there was a Secret Cabaret featuring performances from magicians Kevin McMahon, Matthew J Dowden and Christopher Howell, as well as Burlesque dancer Missy Malone.