Film festival reels in Allen, Mamet and young Brits

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The Independent Culture

The latest Woody Allen movie, a new film from David Mamet and a host of screenings by British talent are among the highlights of the London Film Festival.

The latest Woody Allen movie, a new film from David Mamet and a host of screenings by British talent are among the highlights of the London Film Festival.

Now in its 44th year, the festival has in the past been hit by financial crises and unforgettable boobs such as the opening night gala when Sir Richard Attenborough gave a speech about the uniqueness of being in a cinema and how video could never compare - and the projector immediately broke down.

But while the LFF still cannot boast the international kudos or glamour of Cannes or Venice, its eclectic selection of new films this year - the largest in the history of the festival - has caused a buzz in the capital.

Between last night's rock'n' roll movie from Cameron Crowe and the closing British film Born Romantic in two weeks time from writer director David Kane, also set in the world of music and dance, the mix includes Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks with Hugh Grant, Mamet's State And Main with Alec Baldwin, and Quills, a film about the Marquis de Sade with Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet and Michael Caine.

But there is another, less starry but potentially memorable side to the festival - a series of smaller-scale films including semi-documentaries. The most notable of these has been chosen for next week's Royal Charity Premiere.

It is Into The Arms Of Strangers: Stories Of The Kindertransport. Mark Jonathan Harris's documentary of the story of the international effort to organise an evacuation of Jewish children from Nazi Germany has a commenatary by Dame Judi Dench and is packed with detail about this important and sometimes forgotten piece of history.

The LFF director Adrian Wootton said: "We are offering our largest and the most exciting selection of movies ever. There are far too many themes to draw to your attention, although music and film seem to cross over, especially in the rock and roll subject of our opening film, Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. It is very pleasing to be launching the festival with this great movie, then bringing down the curtain 15 days later with a terrific new British film, David Kane's Born Romantic."

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