London film fest line-up announced

Event on the up with Altman, preems

LONDON — The 45th London Film Festival’s last-minute, nail-biting maneuvering to confirm Robert Altman’s first British film, “Gosford Park” for the Nov. 7 opening night pushed back the fest’s press launch by a week, but it paid off and the fest announced their full line-up Wednesday.

With Altman and cast members Emily Watson and Kelly Macdonald on stage at the Odeon West End in London for the program announcement, the unspooling is clearly rolling out this year with a greater sense of event than years prior. Adding to the raising of the fest’s profile is the international premiere of Iain Softley’s Kevin Spacey-starrer, “K-Pax,” which will close the fest Nov. 22.

Fest director Adrian Wootton unveiled a few more high-profile surprises, including the attendance of Bruce Willis, for his new comedy actioner “Bandits,” as well as a tribute to Pixar with Pixar VP and director John Lasseter, who will host a master class together with the company’s Pete Docter, who helmed “Monster Inc.” Also on hand for the Guardian lectures series are French actress Isabelle Huppert, Peter Fonda and Martin Sheen.

All in all, eleven gala screenings will take place, including Walt Disney-Pixar offering, “Monster Inc.,” the European premiere of John Woo’s World War II feature, “Windtalkers,” and Czech director Jan Sverak’s “Dark Blue World.” British film galas include Fred Schepisi’s “Last Orders,” Sandra Goldbacher’s “Me Without You” and Edinburgh hit, “The Lawless Heart.”

Four world premieres of British features will be among the 200-odd films to be showcased this year.

These are the madcap comedy from Nicholas Cohen, “Beginner’s Luck,” rock’n’roll tale “Teenage Kicks – The Undertones” from Tom Collins, Anna Friel-starrer “The War Bride” from Lyndon Chubbuch, and “Everyone’s Happy,” which was penned by “Full Monty” scribe Simon Beaufoy.

Fest deputy director Sandra Hebron singled out Austrian as well as Argentine and French cinema as being on a roll and added that Asian cinema is continuing to both “surprise and shock.” Three Austrian films, Ulrich Seidl’s Venice-preemer “Dog Days,” Cannes’ Certain Regard entry “Lovely Rita,” and Locarno pic “Be My Star” will be screened. She also described the French film section as “the strongest line-up of French films in memory.”

Wootton said he did not know to what extent the events of last week in New York and Washington would impact the event and offered his sympathies to colleagues in the U.S.

“We want to stage the festival in the most dynamic way we can and we hope the festival will be a celebration of film and film culture,” he said.

(Steven Gaydos in London contributed to this report.)

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