London Film Festival 2007 programme announced

Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody in The Darjeeling Limited The 51st London Film Festival, which begins on 17th October, announced its lineup today.

The festival will open with the UK premiere of David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, starring Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen, and set amongst a notorious organised crime family in London.

The closing night gala on 1st November will feature the UK premiere of Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited. The film follows three American brothers, played by Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody, on a trip across India.

The festival will be hosting 7 World, 29 European and 128 UK premieres. The programme includes the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion winner Ang Lee with his controversial Lust, Caution, starring Tony Leung. Also being screened are François Ozon's Angel, Sean Penn's Into the WIld and Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. One of the most eagerly-awaited films isTodd Haynes' Bob Dylan biopic, I'm Not There featuring a variety of actors, such as Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere and Cate Blanchett (she does a good job of looking like him), playing Dylan at different stages in his life.

Audiences can also see work from debut feature directors including: Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies), Rodrigo Plá (Zona), Shivajee Chandrabhushan (Frozen) and Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud (Persepolis).  

British filmmaking talent is represented by Penny Woolcock (Exodus), Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow: A Home Movie), Nick Broomfield (Battle for Haditha), Asif Kapadia (Far North), Richard Attenborough (Closing the Ring) as well as by newcomers Simon Welsford (Jetsam) and Joanna Hogg (Unrelated), and a selection of documentaries and shorts. 

The 12 Gala screenings are:

 

LIONS FOR LAMBS           The Times Gala

 

Director and actor Robert Redford helms this complex contemporary thriller, scripted by Matthew Michael Carnahan, exploring the consequences of war. With a cast including Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep, three stories are increasingly entwined across Afghanistan, California and Washington DC, revealing their profound impact on each other and the world at large.  

 

LUST, CAUTION                The Mayor of London Gala

 

Venice Golden Lion winning director Ang Lee, returns to his roots with this espionage thriller set amidst a fascinating and troubled period in 1940’s China. Bringing together cinema icon Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and dazzling newcomer Tang Wei with the ever excellent Joan Chen, the film is based on a short story by celebrated Chinese author Eileen Chang. Lee captures the nuances of suppressed passion amidst everyday subterfuge, with emotionally devastating results.  

 

I’M NOT THERE                    Centrepiece Gala

 

Six actors portray Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ unconventional journey into the life and times of the man, weaving together a rich, multi-layered portrait of this ever-elusive icon. Performances by Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Ben Whishaw are set against music from the man himself, as well as cover versions from a wealth of musicians including Cat Power, Tom Verlaine and Sonic Youth.  

 

JUNO                      Film on the Square Gala

 

Jason Reitman’s second feature follows a bright teenager with a fine line in sardonic wit, who has the misfortune to find herself pregnant after having sex for the first and only time. With a screenplay from ‘Pussy Ranch’ blogger Diablo Cody, titular Juno MacGuff is the ultimate cool-if-slightly-weird chick role model, deftly performed by Ellen Page, in a film with a whip smart surface and heartwarming depth.  

 

THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE        American Airlines Gala

 

In her first English language project, Susanne Bier directs a film which builds a genuine sense of loss and redemption. Halle Berry shines in the challenging role of Audrey Burke, a woman who has it all until her husband, played by David Duchovny, is killed in a random incident. Hoping to turn her life around, she turns to her husband’s childhood best friend and long-term addict, Jerry. With an extraordinary performance by Benicio Del Toro, Bier explores how lives are transformed by dramatic events and the feelings that emerge in the aftermath.  

INTO THE WILD                   Kyoto Planet Gala

Adapted and directed by Sean Penn from Jon Krakauer’s best-selling book, the film follows the true life story of 22-year-old Christopher McCandles, who walked out of his privileged life in search of adventure. On a journey across America to Alaska, he became an enduring symbol for people in search of truth and happiness.  American auteur cinema at its best, Penn combines artistry with an outstanding performance from Emile Hirsch and flawless support from a cast including Catherine Keener, William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden.  

 

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD           Tiscali Gala

 

Australian director Andrew Dominik bases his haunting, poetic western on Ron Hansen’s novel. Venice award winner Brad Pitt has rarely been better than as the ‘gentleman outlaw’ who became an American icon, in a film that delights in questioning the myth and confounding expectations. Casey Affleck creates a complex Ford, youthful and naïve but with hidden depths of his own. 

 

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY           Time Out Special Screening

 

Director Julian Schnabel’s interpretation of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir and international bestseller excels at bringing the author’s interior monologue to the screen. Having suffered a massive stroke leading to ‘locked-in-syndrome’ at the age of 43, Bauby is depicted subtly and intelligently by Mathieu Amalaric, showing him as a flawed man, but droll and irreverent too.  

 

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS                Sight & Sound Special Screening

 

Cristian Mungiu’s superb arthouse nail-biter, an odyssey of desperation set in 1980’s Romania, won him the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Taking place during one night, Gabita has organised an illegal abortion for herself. However when she relies on her friend, Otila, to sort things out, the other woman has to pay her own price to make sure it happens. Anamaria Marinca delivers a piercing performance as Otila in this excruciatingly tense drama.  

 

SICKO                    Documentary Gala

 

Filmmaker Michael Moore returns with his funniest and most moving film to date, examining the very unfunny fact that the USA is the only developed nation which lacks a universal health care system. Making comparisons with health services in England (one interviewee is Tony Benn), France, Canada and Cuba, he points out the irony that Guantanamo Bay detainees receive better medical care than 9/11 volunteers. There is no denying the acuteness and scale of the problem Moore identifies, and the skill with which he attacks it. 

 

SILENT LIGHT                  World Cinema Gala

 

Carlos Reygadas directs this contemplative study of morality and spiritual crisis set in a Menonite community in the outskirts of Chihuahua, Mexico. Johan, a husband and father, breaks the rules of his community by falling in love and having an affair, and his inner turmoil is played out against the everyday habits and rituals which punctuate the day. Reygadas’ control and mastery of image and sound leave no doubt that we are watching cinema at its most carefully and artfully constructed.  

 

BEE MOVIE                  Family Gala

 

Dreamworks bring Jerry Seinfeld’s first film script to the big screen, in this smart family 3-D animation with a sting in its tale. Seinfeld also lends his voice to Barry B Benson, your average ‘bee next door’ who becomes infatuated with New York florist Vanessa, voiced by Renée Zellweger. The smalltown bee becomes a celebrity in his own world in a film with plenty for both adults and children to enjoy.  

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The Times BFI 51st London Film Festival runs from October 17– November 1.  

Tickets can be booked online at www.lff.org.uk or by telephone on: 020 7928 3232 from Saturday 29 September.  

BFI members booking opens on Wednesday 26 September.   

Programmes are distributed throughout London from Monday 17 September. 

 

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