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Brit crime to open Edinburgh film fest

British crime thriller Hyena is set to open the 68th Edinburgh International Film Festival on Wednesday 18 June, festival organisers have announced.

The provocative drama, which reunites director Gerard Johnson with Peter Ferdinando, will receive its World Première at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre ahead of its UK cinema release this October.

The film follows Michael Logan (Ferdinando), a high-functioning addict and corrupt London policeman challenged by an influx of “ruthless Albanian gangsters” transforming the criminal landscape. Michael finds his “increasingly self-destructive behaviour and the sheer brutality of the new gang lords” sending him in a “spiralling descent of fear and self-doubt”.

The film also stars Stephen Graham, MyAnna Buring, Neil Maskell, Elisa Lasowski, and Richard Dormer.

Director Gerard Johnson said it was a “huge honour” for Hyena to open “this prestigious festival”.

Chris Fujiwara, the festival’s Artistic Director, added: “We’re excited to be opening the festival with the World Première of Hyena. It’s a powerful and beautifully directed thriller that clearly establishes director Gerard Johnson as a major talent in British filmmaking. It’s also an exceptional example of the kind of film that our festival has traditionally supported: a work in which a director of artistic integrity takes a vigorous and imaginative approach to the renewal of a film genre.”

Hyena joins eight other British films in competition for the Michael Powell Award, a prestigious accolade with a £20,000 cash prize:

  • Castles in the Sky (World Première), Gillies Mackinnon’s take on the story of visionary Scottish engineer and developer of radar, Robert Watson-Watt, starring Eddie Izzard and David Hayman.
  • Greyhawk (UK Première), Guy Pitt’s film about a blind ex-soldier who loses his beloved guide dog on an infamous housing estate.
  • Hide and Seek (World Première), directed by Joanna Coates, is “a study of a modern attempt at living a utopian ideal”.
  • My Accomplice (World Première), the directorial début of Charlie Weaver Rolfe – “a very special romantic comedy set in Brighton”.
  • Set Fire to the Stars (World Première), directed and co-written by Andy Goddard, celebrates Dylan Thomas’ centenary by following the poet as he battles his demons in 1950s New York, featuring Celyn Jones as Thomas and Elijah Wood as John Malcolm Brinnin.
  • A Practical Guide to a Spectacular Suicide (UK Première), directed by Graham Hughes, is a “poignant comedy” about a young man who starts a blog to chart his plans for “the ultimate ‘spectacular suicide’”.
  • Still Life (UK Première), from Machan director and The Full Monty producer Uberto Pasolini, stars Eddie Marsan as a council worker charged with finding the next of kin of those who have died alone.
  • We Are Monster (World Première), directed by Antony Petrou, which delves into the real-life case of an Asian teenager brutally murdered in his cell in a UK young offenders’ institution by a racist fellow inmate.

The 2014 Michael Powell Award will be presented at the EIFF Awards Ceremony on Friday 27 June at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse.

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