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Edinbugh set to open with ‘Guard’

Revamped fest selects comedy starring Gleason, Cheadle

John Michael McDonagh’s “The Guard,” starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, will open the 65th Edinburgh Film Festival, which runs June 15-26.

The Irish black comedy, which premiered at Sundance, kicks off a revamped format for the world’s oldest continually running fest that’s light on new movies but heavy on special events.

Following a significant cut in funding, this year’s program includes just 63 new features, down from 111 last year.

A third of the program consists of docs, with a strong American presence including helmer Danfang Dennis’ “Hell and Back Again,” which nabbed the World Cinema jury prize for doc at Sundance; Liz Garbus’ “Bobby Fisher Against the World,” about the late chess champ, which also played Sundance; and Morgan Neville’s “Troubadours,” about the Hollywood club.

Among the drama lineup, U.K. premieres include Philip Seymour Hoffman’s “Jack Goes Boating,” Keith Bearden’s “Meet Monica Velour,” Steven Silver’s “The Bang Bang Club” and Alex de la Iglesia’s “The Last Circus.”

As part of their attempt to rethink the fest format, organizers have done away with prizes and high-profile red-carpet premieres and are putting the emphasis on experimental collaborations, interactive happenings and guest curators.

“In a short space of time, we have developed some genuinely innovative content for the 2011 program, building on the strong heritage and reputation of Edinburgh as one of the original pioneers of the global film festival,” said the fest’s new director James Mullighan.

Architect Markus Miessen will curate a day-long debate called 24 Hours of Spatial Politics. Helmer Gus Van Sant has put together a mini-retrospective of Derek Jarman, while Bela Tarr has selected gems from the history of Hungarian cinema to accompany the screening of his latest movie, “Turin Horse.”

The Reel Science strand will feature scientists discussing the scientific content of films such as “Project Nim,” “Memento” and “28 Days Later.” The Conflict/Reportage strand will focus on war reporting in cinema, while Sound Tracks will comprise events exploring the relationship between film and music.