London Film Festival unveils lineup

'W,' 'Solace,' 'Che' among highlights

Politics, history and James Bond dominate the lineup of the 52nd Times BFI London Film Festival, unveiled Wednesday.

Highlights include Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush biopic “W.,” Steven Soderbergh’s “Che,” Michael Winterbottom’s “Genova” and Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir.” Fest will also host the first public screening of James Bond pic “Quantum of Solace” on Oct. 29, after its world preem in London that same evening.

As well as the previously announced opening and closing night films, Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon” and Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire,” artistic director Sandra Hebron’s program includes 15 world, 20 European and 119 U.K. preems among its189 features and 108 shorts.

It has a particularly strong British selection, with Nick Moran’s “Telstar,” Duane Hopkins’ “Better Things,” Gerald McMorrow’s “Franklyn” and Mike Figgis’ “Love Live Long” all receiving U.K. preems.

The spirit of late British Film Institute chairman and filmmaker Anthony Minghella, who died in March, lingered over the press launch, with BFI director Amanda Neville paying special tribute to him. A quote from Minghella — “Something so powerful as film should be celebrated and understood” — features on the front cover of the fest brochure.

The fest has faced calls for a glitzier event from some quarters, including the U.K. Film Council, which allocates the BFI £16 million ($28 million) a year in public funding.

The fest has a budget of $7.2 million and was not given any extra coin by the U.K. Film Council’s Festival Fund this year. Hebron and her team will reapply to the fund later this month.

“We’re already pretty glitzy, and even we have been surprised by the number of A-listers expected to attend,” Hebron told Daily Variety. “We’re very keen to retain the diversity of cultural mixes we have at the festival, but at the same time we’re delighted to have films such as ‘Quantum of Solace’ and ‘Frost/Nixon’ playing.”

Fest, which unspools Oct. 15-30, also features master classes and workshops.