London Film Festival line-up announced

52nd edition to feature record number of premieres, plus first public screening of Quantum Of Solace.

by Amber Wilkinson

The programme for The Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival has been Artistic Director Sandra Hebron, includes a record number of world and international premieres with 189 features and 108 shorts screening.

Opening Night film, Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon is one of the Festival’s 15 world premieres and the Closing Night Gala is the European premiere of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.

A healthy slate of new British films will also premiere, including Nick Moran’s Telstar, Eran Creevy’s Shifty, and Gerald McMorrow’s Franklyn in addition to Shashank Ghosh’s Quick Gun Murugan, from India, and Samir Habchi’s Beirut Open City, from Lebanon.

The 12 international premieres at the Festival include Sugar from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Ketan Mehta’s Colours Of Passion and Nanette Burstein’s American Teen. Festival audiences will also have the chance to attend the first public screening of Marc Forster’s latest James Bond outing Quantum Of Solace, immediately following the film’s world premiere on October 29.

Commenting on the Festival line-up, Artistic Director Sandra Hebron said: "We are delighted to be able to present such a diverse and high quality programme of films and events, with an unprecedented number of world, international and European premieres.

"We are excited that London in October will play host to world renowned directors, writers and actors, as well as to some of the most important new voices in international cinema."

Also hosting 20 European and 119 UK premieres, the Festival showcases new work from established and emerging filmmakers. The programme includes the latest work from Laurent Cantet (Cannes Palme d’Or winner, The Class), Oliver Stone (W.), Steven Soderbergh (Che, Part One and Two), Raymond Depardon (Modern Life), Jonathan Demme (Rachael Getting Married), Stephan Elliott (Easy Virtue), Agnes Varda (The Beaches Of Agnes), Shyam Benegal (Welcome to Sajjanpur), Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom), Gabor Csupo (The Secrets Of Moonacre), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Three Monkeys); Fernando Eimbcke (Lake Tahoe), Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (The Silence Of Lorna), Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Terence Davies (Of Time And The City).

In addition to welcoming back previous Festival alumni - such as Kelly Reichardt (Wendy And Lucy), Pablo Trapero (Lion's Den) and Bouli Lanners (Eldorado) - the programme introduces the work of debut directors including Lance Hammer (Ballast), Juraj Lehotský (Blind Loves), Enrique Rivero (Parque Via) and Ursula Meier (Home).

Old British hands returning to the fray, include Michael Winterbottom (Genova) and Richard Eyre (The Other Man), in addition to new work from Justin Kerrigan (I Know You Know) and Pat Holden (Awadays).

British directors making their feature film debuts at the Festival also include Steve McQueen (Hunger) and Sallie Aprahamian (Broken Lines), whilst a special panel event, British Film Boom, will celebrate and examine the new generation of British film talent.

Amongst those films representing new French cinema are Arnaud Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale, Christophe Honoré’s La Belle Personne and Philippe Grandrieux’s A lake.

Contemporary European cinema is celebrated in the Cinema Europa strand which includes 29 films, such as Ole Christian Madsen’s Flame & Citron, from Denmark, Hungary-Germany co-production Delta, Uprise by Sandro Aguilar, from Portugal, and Involuntary by Ruben Östlund from Sweden. In addition, the Film on the Square strand includes Uli Edel’s The Baader Meinhof Comples from Germany and Antonello Grimaldi’s Quiet Chaos from Italy.

Films have been selected from 43 countries including Iceland, Kazakhstan, Chile and Liberia. Mexico’s Rodrigo Plá directs The Desert Within and Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, The Weird hails from South Korea, while Francis X. Pasion’s Jay and Annemarie Jacir’s Salt Of This Sea represent new filmmaking from the Philippines and Palestine respectively.

A diverse slate of new films from the US includes Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Secret Life Of Bees and Peter Sollett’s Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist, which screen alongside a strong selection of films representing a new wave of American independent filmmaking, such as Antonio Campos’ Afterschool and Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River. Highlighting this trend is a special panel event entitled Indiewood Is Dead... Long Live The New, True Indies which will discuss the future of the US Indie scene.

Documentary Gala, Alex Gibney’s Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Hunter S Thompson, is one of 19 documentary features at the Festival which will compete for the annual Grierson Award for best feature-length documentary.

Ari Folman’s animated documentary Waltz With Bashir and James Toback’s Tyson also screen, in addition to Citizen Havel by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek from the Czech Republic and Sacha Gervasi’s Anvil! The Story OF Anvil.

There will also be nine short film programmes and six experimental shorts programmes, including a selection of local talen in London Calling and Suffer Little Children - an assortment of films which focus on the perils of growing up.

The Festival’s cutting edge Experimenta strand includes surrealist biopic The Feature by Michel Auder and Andrew Neel, in addition to new restorations of 35mm films by French writer and theorist Guy Debord, and RR - the latest film from American auteur James Benning. Treasures from the Archive celebrates the legacy of cinema with a new restoration of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West to mark the classic western’s 40th anniversary, alongside the first two major restorations from Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation – Metin Erksan’s Dry Summer from Turkey and Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki, from Senegal.

For the fifth year running, the Festival will host free outdoor screenings on Trafalgar Square. In celebration of archive cinema, London Loves is two nights of archive film screenings with Neal Brand providing live piano accompaniment to High Treason on October 23 and screenings of 15 shorts celebrating the capital on October 24.

Frost/Nixon screenwriter Peter Morgan and Synecdoche New York's writer-director Charlie Kaufman will participate in Masterclasses and Robert Carlyle will be one of four special guests in the Screen Talks series of career interviews.

Other guests expected to attend the Festival include: Michael Sheen, Atom Egoyan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Omar Sharif, Michael Winterbottom, Danny Boyle and Steven Soderbergh, among others.

Look out for more coverage - including our guide to all the films screening - coming soon.

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