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London Film fest seeks beauty and controversy

Actor Clooney poses backstage after receiving the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 62nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles
Actor Clooney poses backstage after receiving the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 62nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles

By Alice Baghdjian

LONDON (Reuters) - George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes and David Cronenberg will parade the red carpet of the British Film Institute's (BFI) 55th London Film Festival, which is set to showcase a varied line up of big titles and emerging talent, organizers said Wednesday.

The European premiere "360" directed by Fernando Meirelles with a glittering cast including Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz, will launch the 16-day festival in October, and "The Deep Blue Sea," also starring Weisz and directed by Terence Davies, will round off Britain's largest cinematic celebration.

"London has a strong reputation as a center for creativity and innovation in the film industry and I'm particularly pleased to see that the high profile films selected for the opening and closing nights have been shot in the capital with great British talent," London Mayor Boris Johnson said in a statement.

Following in the wake of Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), London faces stiff competition from these high-profile and higher-ranking magnets for the big studios and A-listers.

Many big titles of the London Festival, such as George Clooney's hotly anticipated work "The Ides of March" have already had a run in Venice, while the opening and closing films in London festival are set to make their world premiere at TIFF.

But organizers stressed the "variety and richness" of the London roster this year, which will showcase 13 world premieres, including "Hut in the Woods" - a new film from Germany's Hans Weingartner, who also directed "The Edukators."

"The festival will present a broad program of the best and most significant films ranging from beautifully crafted narrative to boundary pushing experiments and we hope we've found richness in diversity," festival Artistic Director Sandra Hebron said.

The celebration of film will look at art and cinematic heritage as well as crowd-pleasers. The Archive Gala will offer film lovers a return to cinematic roots with a showcase of restored reels from archives around the world.

The festival is set to give a modern twist to the world premiere of the melodramatic 1928 silent film, "First Born," in which a newly commissioned score will accompany the on-screen exploits of a badly behaved aristocrat.

"The restorations from the film archives reflect the diversity reflected elsewhere in the program. There's something of a historical flavor to our Experimenta programs too," Hebron said.

No single country dominates the lineup, but the Iranian contingent of world cinema featuring new films by Mohammad Rasoulof and Morteza Farshbaf, received particular attention from organizers.

"The London Film Festival brings together films of beauty and controversy, many of which we wouldn't see in the UK otherwise," said Amanda Nevill, BFI Chief Executive.

Special mention was made in particular of Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Iranian co-director of "This is not a film," whose passport was confiscated by Iranian authorities en route to Toronto Tuesday, Hebron said.

"This incident shows it is more important than ever for film festivals and the film community to support artists like him," Hebron said.

The 55th London BFI Film Festival will run from Oct 12-27.

(Created by Paul Casciato)

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