BFI 53rd London Film Festival

8th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

Once again the London Film Festival offers up an incredible line-up from both established filmmakers and showcasing directorial debuts from around the world.

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival runs for two weeks starting on the 14 October, the line up includes a diverse selection of world and international premieres with a total of 191 features and 113 shorts screening alongside an exciting line-up of special events and expected guests.

The opening Night film is Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is one of the Festival's 15 world premieres and will be presented by the director and cast members including Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Helen McCrory. The four international premieres that will be featured at the festival are 45365 from Bill and Turner Ross, Celine Danhier's Blank City, Mike Judge's Extract and Rumle Hammerich's Headhunter. John Lasseter's Toy Story 2 in Disney Digital 3D™ will also have its UK premiere during the festival.

Presenting a total of 146 UK premieres, the Festival will screen new work from established and emerging filmmakers alongside debuts by newly discovered talents. Directors travelling to London to introduce their latest work include Michael Haneke (Cannes Palme d'Or winner, The White Ribbon), Steven Soderbergh (The Informant!),Ang Lee (Taking Woodstock), George Clooney will also be in attendance to support his role in The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jim Jarmusch (The Limits of Control) and Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man

British cinema
There is a compelling line-up of British films such as Stephen Poliakoff  (Glorious 39), Tom Harper (The Scouting Book For Boys), Julien Temple (Oil City Confidential), Penny Woolcock (1 Day), Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas (American: The Bill Hicks Story), Jez Lewis (Shed Your Tears and Walk Away) and Chris Atkins (Starsuckers), several of which are world premieres. Meanwhile director Xiaolu Guo's She, a Chinese - (UK/France) may interest our readers as it tells a cross-cultural story in England of an enigmatic young woman's search for herself and a place to belong.

 She, a Chinese (2009) Optimim releasing
Xiaolu Guo's She, a Chinese, (2009) Optimum Releasing


World cinema
The very best of world cinema is reflected in the programme, as Festival audiences have a choice of films from 46 countries around the globe. Territories represented include Africa (Souleymane Cissé's Tell Me Who You Are), Kamla Abu Zekri's One-Zero - Egypt), Omar Sharif starring in The Traveller - Egypt, East Asia (Bong Joon-Ho's Mother - South Korea) , South Asia (Shyam Benegal's The Stolen Well - India) and the Middle East (Samuel Maoz's Lebanon and Haim Tabakman's Eyes Wide Open - Israel). 

Contemporary European cinema
Contemporary European cinema is celebrated in the Cinema Europa strand which includes 40 films, such as Jesper Ganslandt's The Ape from Sweden, Yorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth from Greece and two Austrian-French-German co-productions: Lourdes by Jessica Hausner and Women Without Men by Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat. Additionally, the Film on the Square strand includes the French-Romanian co-production Tales From the Golden Age, directed by Hanno Höfer, Cristian Mungiu, Constantin Popescu and Ioana Uricaru and Marco Bellocchio's Vincere, one of 8 films screening in the Festival from Italy. Marking its 10th year of a valuable association with Film Italia, the Festival will also host 'Maestri & Multiplexes: Italian Cinema Now', a panel discussion about the issues facing contemporary Italian films and filmmakers. This year's French Gala is Mia Hansen-Løve's Father of My Children and as part of the Festival's Special Events programme, the Festival will present two exciting masterclasses with Audiard and Téchiné, in partnership with Unifrance.

Documentaries and short films
Frederick Wiseman's La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet is one of 26 documentary features at the Festival which will compete for the annual Grierson Award for best feature-length documentary. There are also a total of nine short film programmes and four experimental shorts programmes, audiences enjoy a wealth of choice ranging from recent work by the capital's most exciting new filmmakers in the London Calling selection, to A Thing Called Love- an assortment of films examining personal relationships, from the briefest encounter to love beyond the grave.


Trafalgar Square outdoor screening
For the sixth year running, the Festival will host a free outdoor screening in Trafalgar Square. London Moves Me is an evening of more than 20 archive shorts that, in a link to the restoration of Underground, celebrate transport in London – a whistle stop tour from 1896 to 2009 with live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand. Open to all, London Moves Me will screen on 22 October.

Commenting on the Festival line-up, Artistic Director Sandra Hebron said: “I'm delighted that we have such a strong and varied programme this year, presenting new work from some of the world's most renowned directors alongside films from exciting new talents, and showcasing creativity and imagination from around the world.


To read more about the festival visit the British Film Institute (BFI) website

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