London Film Festival to open with Frost/Nixon

Written by Suchandrika Chakrabarti on . Posted in Festivals

frostnixon The London Film Festival's programme was announced by the BFI's Artistic Director, Sandra Hebron, at the press launch today. Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon, with Michael Sheen and Frank Langella (pictured) in the starring roles, will be premiering in the opening night slot on 15th October. Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, set in India, will close the festival.

Although Ms Hebron said that 2008 was "not a vintage year for cinema," judging from other festivals this year, she feels that her team have picked out some gems for us lucky Londoners.The keywords for this year's festival are "politics, history and memory," she added. Sounds promising.


"Not a vintage year for cinema" - Sandra Hebron, BFI Artistic Director Highlights include the new Bond film, Quantum of Solace; Oliver Stone's W., a comic take on George W. Bush's journey from being the president's son to, well, being the President; and Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which made headlines a short while back for something to do with Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz.

The documentary strand will include the prolific Alex Gibney 's Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S Thompson; James Toback's Tyson, about Mike, no less; and the Czech Citizen Havel, about "the last president of Czechoslovakia and first president of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel-former dissident, leader in the Velvet Revolution, playwright, poet, essayist and Rolling Stones fan" - should be an interesting one.

This year's clip reel looked better than last year's, and was a relief after the interminable list of sponsors, including Moet & Chandon, Renault and Sky. Good thing they always do that right at the start, it'd send people to sleep otherwise. 

Anyway, to the clip reel. My picks, in no particular order:

Frost/Nixon (although seeing Michael Sheen in the clip did make me think, is that Tony Blair?)

Quantum of Solace

W. (seeing Ioan Gruffud as a budget Tony Blair made everyone laugh and the guys next to me say, "That looks nothing like him!" Michael Sheen was clearly busy)

Steven Soderbergh's Che

Michael Winterbottom's Genova

The Hunter S. Thompson one

Citizen Havel

Hunger, the first feature from Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen, about the 1981 IRA hunger strike at Belfast's Maze prison, led by Bobby Sands , which won the Camera d'Or for Best Debut at this year's Cannes

Waltz with Bashir, an animated take on the first Lebanon War by a veteran

The Baader Meinhof Complex, dealing with the left wing militant group set up by the children of the Nazi generation

Synechdoche, New York, Charlie Kaufman's latest

The gorgeous-looking Touki Bouki, a 35-year-old Senegalese feature

Guests expected at the festival include: Michael Sheen; Eva Green; Atom Egoyan; Gwyneth Paltrow; Sam Riley; Nanni Moretti; Rian Johnson; Omar Sharif; Laurent Cantet; Jessica Biel; Michael Winterbottom; Arnaud Desplechin; Colin Firth; Laura Linney; Michel Houellebecq; Liam Neeson; Alex Gibney; Antonio Campos; Penelope Cruz; Ben Barnes; Danny Boyle; Christophe Honoré; Nathaniel Dorsky and Steven Soderbergh.

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The Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival runs from 15 October – 30 October.

Tickets can be booked online at or by telephone on: 020 7928 3232 from 27 September.

BFI members booking opens on Thursday 18 September and Wednesday 24 September for online bookings. 

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