London Film Festival 2008: Lineup Announced

The full lineup for the 52nd London Film Festival has been announced.

Amongst the highlights are Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire, W., Quantum of Solace, The Class, Che (in two parts), Waltz With Bashir and Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

GALA SCREENINGS

Frost/Nixon (Opening Film): Ron Howard directs this adaptation of Peter Morgan’s play about the interviews David Frost (Michael Sheen) conducted with the disgraced Richard Nixon in 1977. Morgan adapted his own play and this could well be a heavyweight awards contender if it is anything like the highly acclaimed play.

W. (The Times Gala): Oliver Stone’s political biopic of George W. Bush which sees Josh Brolin play the outgoing US president. A highly impressive supporting cast includes Elisabeth Banks, Thandie Newton, Scott Glenn, Richard Dreyfuss, Toby Jones and James Cromwell as the film charts his extraordinary road from the black sheep of the Bush dynasty to the US presidency.

Genova (The Mayor of London Gala): Director Michael Winterbottom’s latest film is about a man (Colin Firth) who relocates to Italy with his two young daughters (Willa Holland and Perla Haney-Jardine) as he comes to terms with a family tragedy.

Waltz With Bashir (Centrepiece Gala): One of the most acclaimed films at Cannes earlier this year was this anti-war documentary. Director Ari Folman which uses animation to explore his own experiences in the Israeli Army during the first Lebanon War. Realising the limits of his own memory, he tracks down and interviews old friends and comrades in a politically charged study of innocence, memory and war.

Quantum of Solace (Film on the Square Gala): The 22nd James Bond film (which easily makes it the longest running franchise in film history) is directed by Marc Forster and sees Daniel Craig return as the legendary secret agent.  This film picks up the storyline just one hour after the end of Casino Royale, making this the first direct Bond sequel, as 007 fights the urge to make his latest mission personal.

The Other Man (Hewlett-Packard Gala): The latest film from award-winning theatre and film director Richard Eyre is about a husband (Liam Neeson) who suspects that his loving wife of 20 years (Laura Linney) may be cheating on him. Antonio Banderas and Romola Garai star in supporting roles

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Sky Gala): Woody Allen’s latest sees him relocate to Catalonia with this tale of two US students Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) both fall for the charms of Latin seducer Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Things are further complicated when his tempestuous ex-wife (Penelope Cruz) re-enters the scene.

The Brothers Bloom (American Airlines Gala): Writer-director Rian Johnson (who made the startling debut Brick in 2006) has assembled an impressive cast for a comedic twist on the heist movie. Brothers Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody) are expert swindlers still searching for the perfect con, who lure an eccentric heiress (Rachel Weisz) into their elaborate scheme.

Easy Virtue (MasterCard Gala): Australian director Stephan Elliott revisits Noel Coward’s social comedy, retaining the 1920s setting, whilst giving it a modern feel. It is about a young aristocrat (Ben Barnes) who impulsively marries a glamorous and sexy American (Jessica Biel), which leads to a culture clash. The ensemble cast also includes Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth and Kris Marshall.

Che [Part 1 & Part 2] (Tiscali Gala): Stephen Soderbergh’s biopic of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara (Benicio del Toro) is screened in two parts. The first chronicles his rise from doctor to successful revolutionary and the second deals with his attempt to orchestrate the great Latin American revolution.

The Class (Sight & Sound Special Screening): The winn er od the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival is an adaptation of François Bégaudeau’s novel Entre les Murs, which is based on his experiences working in a school in Paris. Bégaudeau himself plays a committed teacher attempting to reach out to his pupils through language and literature.

Hunger (Time Out Special Screening): Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen ventures into film making with this drama about the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike led by Bobby Sands. Michael Fassbender plays Sands, whilst Stuart Graham and Liam Cunningham star in supporting roles.

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunger S. Thompson (Documentary Gala): ‘Gonzo’ journalist Hunter S. Thompson is the latest subject for documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, who uses a wealth of archive footage and high-profile interviewees such as Tom Wolfe and Jimmy Carter, to paint a fascinating portrait of the counterculture icon. Johnny Depp (who played Thompson in Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Fear and Laothing in Las Vegas back in 1998) narrates along with extracts from Thompson’s work.

The Secret of Moonacre (Family Gala): Based on the popular children’s novel The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, director Gabor Csupo’s latest offering follows Maria Merryweather (Dakota Blue-Richards), an orphan who inherits a book that provides a key to a past world and may answer the riddles of Moonacre Manor. With supporting performances from Ioan Gruffudd and Juliet Stevenson.

Slumdog Millionaire (Closing Night Film): Danny Boyle directs this true life tale of a poor teenager in Mumbai who goes on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in order to find his true love. It has already got rave reviews at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals and looks like an early awards contender.

FILMS ON THE SQUARE

These are the other notable films from around the world that will be screening in cinemas in Leicester Square during the festival.

24 City (Ershisi Cheng Ji) (Dir. Jia Zhangke / China)
Achilles And The Tortoise (Dir. Takeshi Kitano / Japan)
Adoration (Atom Egoyan / Canada)
American Teen (Dir. Nanette Burstein / USA)
Anvil! The Story Of Anvil (Sacha Gervasi / USA)
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Dir. Uli Edel / Germany)
Ballast (Dir. Lance Hammer / USA)
A Christmas Tale (Dir. Arnaud Desplechin / France)
Dean Spanley (Dir. Toa Fraser / UK, New Zealand)
Il Divo (Dir. Paolo Sorrentino / Italy)
Frozen River (Dir. Courtney Hunt / USA)
The Good, The Bad, The Weird (Dir. Kim Jee-Woon / South Korea)
Hamlet 2 (Dir. Andrew Fleming / USA)
Heart Of Fire (Dir. Luigi Falorni / Germany & Austria)
Incendiary (Dir. Sharon Maguire / UK)
Johnny Mad Dog (Dir. Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire / France, Belgium & Liberia)
Lake Tahoe (Dir. Fernando Eimbcke / Mexico)
Let’s Talk About The Rain (Dir. Agnès Jaoui / France)
Lion’s Den (Dir. Pablo Trapero / Argentina)
Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Dir. Peter Sollett / USA)
Of Time And The City (Dir. Terence Davies / UK)
A Perfect Day (Dir. Ferzan Ozpetek / Italy)
Quiet Chaos (Dir. Antonello Grimaldi / Italy)
Rachel Getting Married (Dir. Jonathan Demme / USA)
Religulous (Dir. Larry Charles / USA)
The Secret Life Of Bees (Dir. Gina Prince–Bythewood / USA)
The Silence Of Lorna (Jean – Pierre & Luc Dardenne / Belgium, France & Italy)
Sugar (Dir. Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck / USA)
Surprise Film
Synecdoche New York (Dir. Charlie Kaufman / USA)
Three Blind Mice (Dir. Matthew Newton / Australia)
Three Monkeys (Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan / Turkey, France & Italy)
Tokyo! (Dir. Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, Bong Joon–Ho / France, Japan)
Tulpan (Dir. Sergey Dvortsevoy / Russia)
Two Lovers (Dir.  James Gray / USA)
Tyson (Dir. James Toback / USA)
The Warlords (Dir. Peter Chan / China)
Wendy & Lucy (Dir. Kelly Reichardt/ USA)

For a full list of films showing at the festival go to the official LFF website.

> The Times report on this year’s lineup
> Official LFF website
> Check out our reports from last year