Sam Mendes hailed the role of the Edinburgh Intl. Film Festival in shining a light on new talent, when he brought his latest movie “Away We Go” to open the 63rd edition June 17.

Although Mendes himself doesn’t need much help any more, he described fests like Edinburgh, which focus on discovery rather than hoopla, as “beacons of hope” for new filmmakers, at a time when it’s harder than ever to get their work seen.

The distinctive yeasty smell of the city’s brewery that pervades the corridors of the Cineworld multiplex recalled his own time as a student staging plays at Edinburgh’s Fringe.

“I came here six years running with productions that weren’t very good,” he laughed. He contrasted the generous hotel room provided by the EIFF with his more rudimentary accommodation back in the day.

“The last time I had to sleep with my head in a cupboard,” he said.

Mendes was joined on the red carpet by actors John Krasinski and Carmen Ejogo, whose Scottish mother made her a particular focus of interest for the local press. Fest patrons Sean Connery and Seamus McGarvey were also on hand.

The festival runs through June 28.