Tickets are now on sale for the films chosen for the opening and closing gala screenings of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017.

Commencing the 71st edition of the Festival on 21 June will be God’s Own Countrythe debut feature from Francis Lee.  The closing film will be the World Premiere of Mark Gill’s England is Mine, screening on 2 July.

After remaining defiantly Scottish in the gala choices last year, with the tedious golfing drama Tommy’s Honour and the pointless cosy nostalgia of the Whisky Galore remake, attention has shifted south of the border in search of more bracing fare.

As most will have guessed, God’s Own Country was shot entirely in Yorkshire, and tells the story of a young sheep farmer whose bleak existence is interrupted by the arrival of a migrant Romanian who takes up temporary work on the farm. Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu are the two leads actors.  The film has had very positive reactions at both Berlin and Sundance, and looks like another strong British independent drama in the wake of such excellent work as The Levelling.  God’s Own Country is a bold choice for the opening gala.  A gay drama from a first-time director may not be the easiest sell for a festival audience that seemed quite pacified by the stultifying opening last year, so the organisers should be thoroughly applauded for looking beyond an easy comfort zone.

It’s unlikely that there will be any difficulties in promoting England is Mine.  Like God’s Own Country, it deals with a certain level of sexual fluidity, but this time the subject is the formative years of one Steven Patrick Morrissey.  Jack Lowden plays the young Morrissey, introverted and ill-at-ease with his working class existence in 70’s Manchester.  He then meets young artist Linder Sterling (Jessica Brown Findlay) who sets him on his first tentative steps to music stardom and professional contrariness.  Culminating in his first meeting with Johnny MarrEngland is Mine is sure to be of intense interest to fans of The Smiths and gladioli enthusiasts.

God’s Own Country screens at Festival Theatre Wed 21 June 2017 @20:40

England is Mine screens at Festival Theatre Sun 2 July 2017 @17:15

Both screenings will have key actors in attendance.  Tickets are available here