London Film Festival

LFF 2008: Day 1

Crane outside the Odeon Leicester Square

The 52nd London Film Festival opened tonight with the world premiere of Frost/Nixon at the Odeon Leicester Square.  

I went to the press screening this morning and I was very impressed – not only were the central performances of the same calibre as the stage play, but it is fascinating look at two very interesting characters. 

Although Peter Bradshaw gave it the thumbs down in The Guardian today, I felt Ron Howard did an admirable job at preserving the qualities of the source material.

It might not be the heavyweight Oscar front-runner some were expecting, it is still high quality film-making with a raft of excellent performances. 

The audience reaction this morning seemed positive – some of Nixon’s best lines got hearty laughs – but I’m curious as to how it will do.

A friend of mine went to a press screening last night and said that although he liked it, that audience was a little more muted in their response.

Some of the problems it will face are the absence of major stars, it is quite ‘talky’ and the fact that a younger generation might not care that much about Richard Nixon or David Frost.

But, as a big fan of the play, I was surprised at how much Howard didn’t alter and that he kept it rooted firmly in the contrasts of the two main characters, which is the main reason the material works. 

You can read my full review of Frost/Nixon in a separate post, but I think it’s also worth setting the scene a little bit about the festival and what’s going on over the next 3 weeks.

First of all the London Film Festival is sort of ‘festival of festivals’, which means that whilst it doesn’t have the importance of Cannes, Berlin, Sundance, Venice or Toronto, it does have the advantage of picking the best films from these festivals and even, in some cases, showcasing films that have not shown at any of them.

It doesn’t perform the same industry function as Cannes or Sundance in that networking and distribution deals are much rarer, but it does provide an opportunity for the public to see some of the year’s best films be they high profile Oscar contenders or more art-house fare. 

This year some of the high profile screenings at the festival include:

As usual there will be a series of talks, panels and strands which include French films, shorts and documentaries.

BFI Southbank entrance

For accredited folk like me  there have been regular screenings down at the BFI Southbank for the past couple of weeks and I’ve already seen some films I’ve really liked, such as Religulous, Sugar and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

But more about them when they actually screen at the festival. 

Last year I did a series of podcasts from the festival, where I discussed various films and events but that proved to be harder work than I imagined.

It involved recording, editing and uploading a lot of audio and I wasn’t really sure at the end of it all if that was the best way of reflecting what was going on. This year I’m going to try and be a bit more flexible.

For example, I want to cast the net a bit wider with my interviews.

I’ll be speaking to some of the actors and directors behind some of the more high profile films but I’m also keen to hear from anyone else at the festival – maybe you have a short film there, are going a talk or just attending a screening. 

I’ll put up a post each day about what’s happening from my angle which  will usually involve the films I’m seeing and generally anything of interest, such as photos, links and news. 

But if you have any suggestions feel free to contact me – you can use the contact form on this site or email me via [email protected]

You can also reach me via FacebookLinkedInMySpace and Twitter.

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