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'The Descendants,' 'Shame,' 'The Artist' Head Full Line Up For 55th BFI London Film Festival

by Oliver Lyttelton
September 7, 2011 1:01 AM
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'The Ides Of March,' 'We Need To Talk About Kevin,' 'Carnage,' 'Wuthering Heights' & More Also Included



We're really getting into the thick of festival season by now. Telluride is long departed, things are winding down in Venice (we're here for another 24 hours, but it's starting to look like a ghost town), and The Playlist team head off to Toronto this afternoon. But there's plenty more on the way in the months to come. Only this morning, AFI Fest revealed that it would open with the premiere of Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar," and shortly afterwards, the full line-up for the 55th BFI London Film Festival has been announced.

We already knew that the festival would be something of a sandwich with Rachel Weisz as the bread; the actress will open the festival with Fernando Mereilles' "360," and close it with Terence Davies' "The Deep Blue Sea." As has been the trend in the past few years, there isn't much in the way of world premieres in the festival. Instead, it serves as a kind of greatest hits package of the festival circuit for 2011, with highlights (and a few lowlights) from Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Venice and Toronto all making appearances, along with a few newbies from the U.K and the rest of the world.

The Galas are headed up, as has been the trend this season, by a pair of George Clooney flicks, the much-praised Alexander Payne film "The Descendants," and the actor's latest directorial effort "The Ides of March." Cannes entries "We Have A Pope," "The Artist," "The Kid With The Bike" and "We Need To Talk About Kevin" all feature, as do David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method," Steve McQueen's "Shame," Roland Emmerich's "Anonymous," and Madonna's "W.E." (buyer beware...), while British directors Michael Winterbottom and Ralph Fiennes have their new films "Trishna" and "Coriolanus" as galas as well.

Other high profile films turning up in the Film on the Square section include Roman Polanski's "Carnage," Richard Linklater's "Bernie," the dramedy "50/50," Andrea Arnold's phenomenal "Wuthering Heights," the cop thriller "Rampart," the much-buzzed about "Martha Marcy May Marlene," Drake Doremus' "Like Crazy" and Werner Herzog's documentary "Into The Abyss." International fare includes the brilliant Mexican picture "Miss Bala," Joachim Trier's "Oslo August 31st," Australia's "Snowtown," as well as British ghost chiller "The Awakening," with Rebecca Hall.

This year's roster holds what seems to be a very promising British section, headed by Claire Foy and Benedict Cumberbatch in "Wreckers" and Eddie Marsan and Romola Garai in "Junkhearts," while Mathieu Amalric, Dominik Moll and Mathieu Demy all have directorial efforts in the French Revolutions strand.

There's plenty more where that came from, including the European and international films, the short section, and the archive pictures, which "Mad Men" fans will be delighted to know will include a new digital restoration of "Bye Bye Birdie." But the best thing to do is really dig into the selection yourself over at the LFF site.

While we do slightly miss the days of world premieres like "The Darjeeling Limited," "Frost/Nixon" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox," it seems like a particularly strong lineup this year. We'll be there in force more than ever before, bringing you more coverage than ever before, so look for that to start on October 12th, when the festival opens, and carrying on until the 27th.

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