Bond gets license to thrill at London Film Festival

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LONDON: The first public screening of the new James Bond movie will be the highlight of this year s London Film Festival, which will bring a host of world premieres and top stars to the British capital.

Daniel Craig s second outing as the British spy in Quantum of Solace will be screened in central London immediately after the film s world premiere finishes there on Oct. 29.

The 52nd annual London Film Festival, which runs from Oct. 15 to 30, will screen some 189 feature films and 108 shorts, including 15 world, 20 European and 119 British premieres.

But the return of Bond is likely to be the most anticipated event, with ordinary fans given a chance to see agent 007 minutes after the end credits roll for the showbiz stars at the premiere.

London differs from many other European film festivals in focusing on bringing world movies to cinema-goers.

Red-carpet glamour mixes with innovation and experimentation, and many of the films would not otherwise get a British screening.

Films from 43 countries will be shown, including from Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Palestine, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and Thailand.

Filmmaker Ibrahim El Batout’s is representing Egypt with his award-winning feature “Ein Shams (Eye of the Sun). The controversial film, which still awaits release in Egypt, recently won the best film award at the Taormina Film Festival and the Rotterdam Arab Film Festival.

The world premiere of director Ron Howard s Frost/Nixon , based on the 1977 interviews between British television presenter David Frost and US president Richard Nixon on the Watergate scandal, will open the festival.

The closing night gala performance is the European premiere of Trainspotting and The Beach director Danny Boyle s Slumdog Millionaire.

Penelope Cruz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Omar Sharif, Eva Green, Liam Neeson and Michael Sheen and Colin Firth are among the stars expected at the event.

French writer Michel Houellebecq, who has adapted his own book The Possibility of an Island into a film, will also attend.

So too will directors Michael Winterbottom and Steven Soderbergh, who are also presenting films.

We are delighted to be able to present such a diverse and high quality program of films and events, with an unprecedented number of world, international and European premieres, said the festival s artistic director, Sandra Hebron.

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.

The festival includes the latest films from Woody Allen ( Vicky Cristina Barcelona ), Oliver Stone ( W. ), Soderbergh ( Che Part 1 and Che Part 2 ) and Winterbottom ( Genova ), among others.

Movie directors and actors regularly introduce their films and this year is no exception, with much of the action taking place in Leicester Square – the traditional home for premieres in Britain.

Boyle, Sheen and actor Robert Carlyle are among those giving talks.

Free screenings will be held in Trafalgar Square, while the London Calling events highlight the capital s most exciting new filmmakers.

Among the Treasures from the Archive are a new restoration of Sergio Leone s Once Upon a Time in the West marking the classic western s 40th anniversary, and the first two major restorations from director Martin Scorsese s World Cinema Foundation.

That the festival salutes the achievements of filmmakers from around the world is a given, and reflected in the presence of films from over 40 countries from Iceland to Australia and all points in between, said Hebron.

Even a cursory glance through the program reveals films about subjects ranging from pop music to prison life, and sheep herding to sport.

There s a renaissance of independent American filmmaking, an unusually rich crop of British films – and the festival s first south Indian Spaghetti Western, she added. – AFP

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