Heads Up: London Film Festival

The city turns cinema for London Film Festival
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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about?

The 55th year of the British Film Institute's 16-day festival, which brings 204 new films to the capital.

Elevator pitch

Cannes on the Southbank.

Prime Movers

The festival's artistic director is Sandra Hebron, who steps down this year.

The Stars

Proper Hollywood glamour-bringing stars will be in attendance; George Clooney, Rachel Weisz and Jude Law are confirmed red carpet gracers. But the real stars are the films: galas include Lynne Ramsay's adaptation of We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut Coriolanus, Alexander Payne's The Descendants, David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, Madonna's WE and silent movie The Artist. Others to look out for include Andrea Arnold's gritty Wuthering Heights; Rampart, a thriller co-written by James Ellroy; This is Not a Film, made while under house arrest by Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi; Nobody Else But You, a neo-noir French thriller and The Art of Love, which has a top-notch Gallic cast (our own Jonathan Romney is adviser for the French section).

The Early Buzz

Time Out celebrates this year's eclectic approach: "unlike previous years, where key artistic or political trends have been easy to spot, it's hard to define much of a pattern ... the films range across every corner of the globe, covering hundreds of topics in every conceivable cinematic style." In the New Statesman, Ryan Gilbey deems it "a sad year", as we bid farewell to Hebron, "the energetic and inspired artistic director who has overseen (and improved) the LFF since 2003. It appears that responsibility for the festival is to come under the remit of BFI Southbank. Does that sound like madness to anyone else? ... All good things are eventually butchered beyond recognition by funding cuts, as the saying goes."

Insider Knowledge

2011 really is Weisz's year: the British actress is in both opening movie 360 and closing film Deep Blue Sea.

It's great that...

There are also events and talks to enjoy, with Abi Morgan, Miranda July, Alexander Payne, Michael Winterbottom...

It's a shame that...

A lot of events get sold out before the tickets go on sale to the general public – which, by the way, is tomorrow at 9.30am.

Hit Potential

While arguably low on world premieres, there's plenty here to suit all tastes.

The Details

Various venues, London (bfi.org.uk/lff), 16 to 27 October.