Sean helps Kate Winslet's husband Sam introduce his film while she minds kids

Even when you've been living away abroad as long as Sean Connery there's still no place like home. The Bond actor seemed particularly energised as he welcomed visitors to the city where he was born 78 years ago and once worked as milkman, in his capacity as the patron of this year's Edinburgh Film Festival .

Accompanied by his vivacious French wife Micheline, the screen favourite, a longtime Bahamas resident, kicked off the proceedings on an opening night which featured the premiere of Sam Mendes' new road movie Away We Go.

The powerhouse director was without his wife Kate Winslet because "one of us has to look after the children while the other goes out to work".

Sam, famed for like critically acclaimed hits like American Beauty and Road To Perdition was, nevertheless, delighted to be back in Scotland.

It was here as an unknown over 20 years ago, that he showcased a string of dodgy plays at the Fringe festival which failed, he confessed, to create much of a stir.

Also attending was US-based Scottish actor Alan Cummings, who gave a typically quirky interview expressing gratitude to the Queen for the OBE he received last week.

"It was not just for my work as an actor but as my work as an (gay and lesbian) activist, too, in America. And to that I say 'Good for you Queenie for recognising the work in the US," he hammed.

Over the next ten days the Hollywood contingent will be strongly represented at the extravaganza, with local talent Tilda Swinton expected, plus Emily Blunt, Clare Danes and Robin Wright-Penn.

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