LONDON – Big-name U.S. -- and other -- movies from other high-profile festivals dominate the headline sections of the 57th BFI London Film Festival, which on Wednesday unveiled its lineup.
The October event will screen the George Clooney and Sandra Bullock Venice festival opener Gravity and the Cannes competition title Inside Llewyn Davis, directed by the Coen Brothers, among others.
Organizers are hoping the lineup of big-ticket movies from other festivals will spark the public imagination and generate big box office and attendance across the annual event's two-week run.
This year's festival in the British capital marks the second full year under the guidance of the BFI’s head of cinemas and festivals, Clare Stewart, and is also the sophomore outing for changes Stewart introduced, including the introduction of competitive sections that are given more prominence to the festival and its program.
The official competition lineup, aimed at "recognizing inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking," will include Richard Ayoade's The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska, David Mackenzie's Starred Up and Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin, all of which will unspool in Toronto in the coming days.
Clio Barnard's The Selfish Giant, the only British feature to hit this year's Festival de Cannes in the Director's Fortnight program, will also compete for a prize in London after its outing in Toronto.
Overall, the 57th BFI London Film Festival, presented in partnership with American Express, will screen 234 fiction and documentary features, including 22 world premieres, 16 international premieres and 29 European premieres along with 20 archive films, organizers said.
As previously announced, the festival will be book-ended by films starring two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks, with the event opening with the European premiere of Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips and closing with another European first, a screening of Saving Mr. Banks, billed as the untold story of how Mary Poppins was brought to the big screen. Emma Thompson stars as P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, while Hanks is Walt Disney.
The festival will also play host to the European premiere of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, while Jason Reitman’s literary adaptation Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, will also enjoy a red carpet gala.
A festival gala event is planned for the European premiere of Ralph Fiennes’ second outing in the director's chair, The Invisible Woman starring him as Charles Dickens, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas and Tom Hollander.
Stewart's second festival in charge also brings back themed strands, each featuring its own galas.
Highlights include Cannes winner Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Color, set for the love strand gala, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon for the gala of the laugh strand.
The cult strand gets Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive, while Alexander Payne’s road-trip movie Nebraska takes the journey strand gala slot.
Organizers said a slew of key talent is expected in town over the event's 14 days to get flashbulbs popping, with Stephen Frears, Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Steve McQueen, Chiwetel Eijofor, Alfonso Cuaron, David Heyman, Sandra Bullock, Joel and Ethan Coen, Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Alexander Payne and Lukas Moodysson among those on the guest list.
The festival's first feature and documentary competitions will also return, and the London event will choose a best British newcomer for an award.
The festival awards will be handed out at a ceremony before the event, which runs Oct. 9-Oct. 20 in the British capital.