|LondonThursday 14th September:
The Times BFI 50TH London Film Festival's programme was announced today by Artistic Director Sandra Hebron, with the full line-up including 181 features and 131 shorts alongside a host of live events, special commissions, screen talks and masterclasses.
Book-ending the fortnight long Festival, the European premiere of Kevin Macdonald's The Last King Of Scotland with Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington and Gillian Anderson opens the event on Wednesday 18th October, and the Closing Gala on Thursday 2nd November brings the 50th celebrations to an end with the UK premiere of Alejandro González Iñárratu's Babel, starring Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt and Gael García Bernal.
Welcoming back many familiar faces and introducing a host of new ones, the Festival showcases established and emerging talent with equal passion, with 4 World premieres, 32 European and 123 UK premieres. The programme includes the latest work from Golden Lion winner Jia Zhang-ke (Still Life) Barbara Albert (Falling), Penny Woolcock (Mischief Night), Pablo Trapero (Born and Bred), Mira Nair (The Namesake), Lars Von Trier (The Boss Of It All), Phillip Noyce (Catch A Fire), Roger Michell (Venus), Lee Jun-Ik (The King And The Clown), Anthony Minghella (Breaking And Entering), Aki Kaurismäki (Lights In The Dusk) and Nanni Moretti (The Caiman). Audiences will also discover debut feature directors including: Cam Archer (Wild Tigers I Have Known), Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson), Daniel Sánchez Arévalo (Dark Blue Almost Black), Djamila Sahraoui (Barakat!) and Andrea Arnold (Red Road).
Films from around the globe will transport cinema-goers to over 50 countries from Israel, the Philippines, Latin America, Turkey and Bulgaria. Egypt's box office smash hit The Yacoubian Building by Marwan Hamed sits alongside Australia's 10 Canoes by Rolf de Heer, Iranian Ali-Reza Amini's hard-hitting Time Froze and Syndromes And A Century from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Gianni Amelio's The Missing Star and Stéphane Brizé's Not Here To Be Loved are included among the European voices at the Festival.
Home-grown talent is as strongly represented with a British selection ranging from Nick Broomfield's Ghosts and Shane Meadows' This Is England to a variety of documentaries and shorts, and the UK's Sacha Baron Cohen stars in Larry Charles' Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan.
Documentary fans are promised 22 factual features including Olivier Meyrou's Beyond Hatred, Sydney Pollack's Sketches of Frank Gehry and 37 Uses For A Dead Sheep from Ben Hopkins. Music lovers will also be spoilt for choice with Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck's Dixie Chicks: Shut Up And Sing; the world premieres of Mike Kerry and Chris Hall's Love Story and Stephen Kijak's Scott Walker: 30 Century Man; Garin Nugroho's gamelan scored Opera Jawa, and Mark Dornford-May's Africa-set Son Of Man.
The Treasures from the Archives strand celebrates restorations from archives around the world, including the BFI National Archive's Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and Distant Voices Still Lives, which will be introduced by Terence Davies.
Dr Strangelove: Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, will also feature alongside The Big Country, screening for the first time in all its newly restored 35mm glory.
Whilst Forest Whitaker, Richard Linklater, Tim Burton, Dustin Hoffman, Christine Vachon, Paul Verhoeven, John Cameron Mitchell and Yo La Tengo discuss their work in career interviews and masterclasses, the Festival also looks forward to welcoming other expected guests including Emilio Estevez, Lukas Moodysson, Roger Michell, Robin Wright Penn, Anthony Minghella, Kenneth Anger, Mira Nair, Peter O'Toole, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Hanif Kureishi, Nanni Moretti, Toa Fraser and Todd Field to introduce their films.
Celebrating its jubilee year, the Festival plays host to two major special events: a free, outdoor live-mix screening A Portrait of London: Trafalgar Square, and the world's largest surprise film screening in 50 Screens.
Commenting on the 50th Festival line-up, Sandra Hebron said: "In this significant year, we're very excited to be able to bring such a strong selection of original and distinctive films to London, together with some truly innovative special events. We're looking forward to welcoming all our participating filmmakers, audiences and press and industry delegates to join us in celebrating the Festival's 50th anniversary and its promising future."
Robert Thomson, Editor, The Times, added: "The range and quality of the work gathered for the festival is extraordinary. There is no doubt that London's claim to being the world's most important and inclusive film festival has been enhanced. Given the riches on display, my advice is to book early."
The Times BFI 50th London Film Festival runs from October 18th - November 2nd.
Tickets can be booked online at www.lff.org.uk or by telephone on: 020 7928 3232 from Friday 29th September.
NFT members booking opens on Monday 18th September.
Programmes are distributed throughout London from September 18th.
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The Times BFI 50th London Film Festival
Wednesday 18th October - Thursday 2nd November 2006