Tom Hanks movies bookend London Film Festival
This film image released by Sony - Columbia Pictures shows, from left, Mahat Ali, Tom Hanks and Faysal Ahmed in a scene from "Captain Phillips." (AP Photo/Sony - Columbia Pictures)
LONDON (AP) — This year's London Film Festival is a Tom Hanks double bill with 232 other features in between.
The 12-day movie showcase opens Wednesday with "Captain Phillips," a drawn-from-life thriller starring Hanks as a cargo ship captain held captive by Somali pirates.
In the festival's closer, "Saving Mr. Banks," Hanks plays a very different real-life figure — Walt Disney, sparring with British writer P.L. Travers over the movie adaptation of her children's classic "Mary Poppins." The film has its world premiere in London on Oct. 20.
Artistic director Clare Stewart said the double dose of Hanks was "a happy accident."
The 57th London Film Festival offers 234 features and 134 shorts, as well as a lineup of stars including Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Radcliffe.
This Sept. 27, 2013 photo shows actors Tom Hanks, left, and Barkhad Abdi, of "Captain Phillips," in New York. The film, about the 2009 hijacking of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates, opens Oct. 11. (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP)
Founded in 1957 to show the best of world cinema to a British audience, the festival has recently tried to carve out a place on the international movie calendar with bigger pictures and more glittering stars.
"Captain Phillips" is one of several films in the lineup already generating awards-season buzz; others include Alfonso Cuaron's space odyssey "Gravity," Joel and Ethan Coen's folk saga "Inside Llewyn Davis" and Steve McQueen's powerful historical drama "12 Years A Slave."
Stewart, in her second year as festival chief, hopes to make London a more important stop for movies during Hollywood's ever-expanding awards season.
Stewart said one of her goals is to draw attention to "films that might be quite surprising and are not on people's radar already."
She's particularly excited about John Curran's "Tracks," starring Mia Wasikowska as a woman who walks across the Australian Outback, and "We Are the Best," Lukas Moodysson's tale of an all-female punk band in 1980s' Sweden.