EIFF announces Opening Night Gala

God’s Own Country will open this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The British drama, which is written and directed by Francis Lee and stars Josh O’Connor (The Riot Club), Ian Hart (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), Gemma Jones (Spooks, Bridget Jones’ Diary) and Alec Secareanu, will have its UK premiere at the Festival Theatre on Wednesday 21 June. It has been confirmed that key cast members will be in attendance on the night.

The gala screening will mark the official opening of the 71st Edinburgh International Film Festival, which will run from Wednesday 21 June until Sunday 2 July. Shot entirely on location in West Yorkshire, God’s Own Country follows the story of Johnny Saxby (O’Connor), a young man carrying the weight of his family’s sheep farm  who has taken to numbing the frustration of his lonely existence with nightly binge-drinking at the local pub and casual sex. When Gheorghe (Secareanu), a handsome Romanian worker, arrives to take up temporary work on the family farm, Johnny finds himself forced to deal with emotions he’s never felt before.

Mark Adams, EIFF Artistic Director, said: “We are thrilled to be staging the UK premiere of Francis Lee’s accomplished debut, God’s Own Country. This hotly-tipped feature debut is one to watch in this incredible year for independent film and perfectly reflect’s the Festival’s ongoing dedication to delivering audiences the most original and artistically accomplished work in international cinema.”

Francis Lee added: “It’s a great privilege that God’s Own Country has been selected as the Opening Night film of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. After the incredible critical and audience responses to the film in both Sundance and Berlin earlier in the year, I’m thrilled to bring GOD’S OWN COUNTRY to the UK for the first time.”

Whilst the full EIFF programme will not be released until Wednesday 31 May,  it has already been announced that the UK premier of Disney-Pixar’s Car’s 3 will take place during the Festival’s opening weekend. Pixar’s Head of Story for Cars 3 Scott Morse will be in attendance to present the film. Several Disney-Pixar premiers, such as Brave, Finding Dory and Toy Story 3 have previously taken place in Edinburgh.

Tickets for the EIFF Opening Gala screening of God’s Own Country will go on sale at 10am on Wednesday 10 May through the EIFF website.

Words: Amy Anderson

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