Digital treasure trove lifts lid on 70 years of Edinburgh's film festival

Clint Eastwood drew the crowds to the Cameo cinema in Tollcross in 1990.
Clint Eastwood drew the crowds to the Cameo cinema in Tollcross in 1990.
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It is the event that has brought the world’s biggest movie stars to the Capital for the last 70 years.

Now a new digital treasure trove has been launched to recall when the likes of Gene Kelly, Clint Eastwood, Peter O’Toole, Sigourney Weaver and Terry Gilliam graced the Edinburgh International Film Festival’s red carpet.

Hollywood legend Gene Kelly visited the film festival in 1956.

Hollywood legend Gene Kelly visited the film festival in 1956.

Organisers have delved into its star-studded archives to help film fans relive famous visits, glittering galas, sneak previews and controversies from its history books.

Little-seen photographs and long-forgotten magic moments from the event, released in the same year as the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, have been brought back to life on the new www.edfilmfestmemories.org.uk website.

The festival, which has unveiled an initial 100 of its “most prized” images, has also issued a public appeal for people to submit their own personal photographs to help build up the new online archive in time for the event’s 70th anniversary celebrations this summer.

Classic moments from the film festival will also be brought to life on the streets of the Capital as part of a city-wide exhibition, backed by the national agency EventScotland, which will be launched on May 31 and run until the end of the festival on July 2.

Highlights drawn from the EIFF archives include Kelly’s visit to introduce Invitation to the Dance in 1956, Orson Welles’ 1953 appearance at the Cameo, Eastwood’s arrival for the screening of White Hunter Black Heart in 1990, Susannah York opening Country Dance in 1970, Ridley Scott unveiling Alien at a midnight screening in 1979 and Weaver, the sci-fi/horror film’s star, visiting the festival when it turned 60.

Hit films to be premiered at the festival over the years include ET: The Extraterrestrial in 1982, My Beautiful Laundrette in 1985, Withnail and I in 1987, Shallow Grave in 1994 and Billy Elliot in 2000.

Diane Henderson, deputy artistic director, said: “The festival is renowned around the world for discovering and promoting the very best in international cinema.

“It has grown to become a platform for education, learning and talent development, a crucial business hub for the UK and international film industry, a fundamentally important celebration of cultural diversity and a significant attraction for Edinburgh itself.”

Stuart Turner, head of EventScotland, said: “The 70th anniversary of the EIFF and Edinburgh as a festival city is a wonderful achievement and shows how Scotland is a perfect stage for events.

“As a key strand of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology it is great to see the world’s longest continually running film festival bringing is history and heritage to life through this project.”