London Film Festival programme announced

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The full programme for the Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival was announced this morning at a packed launch in Leicester Square

The festival includes films from around the world, cherry-picking the best of the year's international festivals and delivering an unprecedented number of world, European and UK premieres.

The festival’s closing and opening gala screenings had already been announced – Ron Howard’s ‘Frost/Nixon’ reimagines a series of interviews between the British TV personality and the disgraced American president, while Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ examines the fallout when a Delhi slum kid wins a top-rated gameshow.

This year’s Film on the Square gala will be the first public screening for new Bond film Quantum of Solace, which sees Daniel Craig return in a mission which takes Bond to Austria, Italy and South America.

The Times gala showcases Oliver Stone’s already controversial ‘W.’, about the rocky road to success of one George W Bush.

Time Out’s own special screening will be Hunger, an examination of the 1981 IRA hunger strike and its leader Bobby Sands. Directed by notorious Turner-winning artist Steve McQueen, the film is a harrowing, uncompromising vision of personal struggle.

Other major screenings include ‘The Other Man’, in which Liam Neeson tracks down a man he suspects of seducing his wife, ‘The Brothers Bloom’, starring Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo as the eponymous fraternal con-men, ‘Che’ (parts 1&2), Steven Soderbergh’s epic examination of the life of the Cuban guerrilla leader, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen’s long-awaited return to form, which stars Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johanssen as two women locking horns over Javier Bardem.

In the ‘Films on the Square’ strand, the Festival presents films as diverse as ‘Anvil’, an hilarious documentary about a real-life Spinal Tap, wickedly funny family drama ‘A Christmas Tale’ from Arnaud Desplechin and Steve Coogan camping up his high-school drama class in the broad, wildly offensive but defiantly likeable Hamlet 2. There are also new films from Terence Davies (Of Time and the City), Takeshi Kitano (‘Achilles and the Tortoise’), Atom Egoyan (Adoration), Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York) and ‘Old Joy’ director Kelly Reichardt, who returns with the immaculately constructed ‘Wendy and Lucy’, starring Michelle Williams.

New British films on offer include a documentary on long-lost folk doyenne Vashti Bunyan (‘From Here to Before’) and Mike Figgis’s semi-documentary exposé of the Gumball 3000 Rally, ‘Love Live Long’. Once again, the Festival presents its ‘French Revolutions’ strand, with the directorial debut of controversy-baiting author Michel Houellebecq (‘The Possibility of an Island’) and remarkable teen angst melodrama ‘Dying or Feeling Better’.

The Cinema Europa strand collects the best movies from across the continent, this year including films as diverse as intimate Chechen drama ‘Captive’ and dayglo Danish animation ‘Sunshine Barry and the Disco Worms’. Moving even further afield, the World Cinema strand tells stories of emigration and exploration, like Iran’s ‘Loose Rope’ and Senegalese/American ‘Goodbye Solo’, or tales of dedication and achievement, like Congolese boxing drama ‘Victoire Terminus’ or a portrait of Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma in ‘Colours of Passion’. One of most intriguing films in the strand, ‘Tony Manero’, concerns a Chilean man obsessed with John Travolta’s character in ‘Saturday Night Fever’.

The festival also returns to the experimental with both features and shorts programmes, and sees the welcome return of classics like Djibril Diop Mambety’s Touki Bouki, and Westerns like The Last Wagon and Once Upon a Time in the West, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year. All this, and numerous talks, workshops and outdoor screenings in Trafalgar Square.

As always Time Out will be covering the festival in painstaking detail both in the magazine and online, so watch this space to catch exclusive early film reviews, news stories and interviews.

www.lff.org.uk

Author: Tom Huddleston



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