The London Film Festival: a user's guide to eight of the best

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The Independent Culture

Of all the international competitors, the Regus London Film Festival is fast becoming the most staunchly public. Aimed squarely at the punters rather than the critics, the UK's biggest festival offers a chance to dive into world cinema. Still, there's a lot to choose from, so if you're just going to see half-a-dozen movies this year, you might consider some of the following.

Of all the international competitors, the Regus London Film Festival is fast becoming the most staunchly public. Aimed squarely at the punters rather than the critics, the UK's biggest festival offers a chance to dive into world cinema. Still, there's a lot to choose from, so if you're just going to see half-a-dozen movies this year, you might consider some of the following.

Almost Famous Drawing on director Cameron Crowe's own experiences as a music journalist for Rolling Stone, this charts the misadventures of a precocious 15-year-old writer accompanying a rock band on the road. An excellent cast includes Billy Crudup, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Frances McDormand.

Opening Night Gala, Wed, 7.30pm; Thur, 3.15pm

Blackboards The young Iranian director, Samira Makhmalbaf ( The Apple) won a Cannes prize for this, her second film. Two wandering teachers scour the dangerous Iran-Iraq border for pupils - while carrying their blackboards on their backs. A cool, even comic, view of Iran's peculiarities and hardships.

Sun 5 Nov, 9.00pm

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon The great genre director Ang Lee turns to the martial arts. Chow Yun Fat leads a romantic, beautiful adventure, involving thwarted love, evil witches and aerial sword fights. To coin the director's own description: Bruce Lee meets Jane Austen.

Mon 6 Nov, 8.30pm; Tue 7 Nov, 3.15pm

Shadow Of The Vampire One of the weirdest films of the festival, this account of the making of F W Murnau's silent classic Nosferatu poses the notion that the director actually cast a real vampire as his screen Count. Willem Dafoe is extraordinary as the method-acting vampire. Hilarious and creepy in equal measure.

Thur, 8.30pm; Fri 3.30pm

Suspicious River Canadian director Lynne Stopkewich's first film, Kissed, was a startling account of a young female necrophiliac. Her compelling, idiosyncratic second again stars Molly Parker, this time playing a married woman and receptionist in a small town motel, who colours her humdrum life by offering sexual favours to the guests.

Fri 10 Nov, 9.00pm; Mon 13 Nov, 1.15pm

Fils De Deux Meres, Ou Comedie De L'INNOCENCE The latest from Chilean director Raul Ruiz ( Time Regained) is a Buñuelian tale set in contemporary Paris. When nine-year-old Camille brings a second mother into his home, his actual mother (Isabelle Huppert) goes along with the game.

Sat 4 Nov, 2.00pm and 6.15pm

Fuckland An Argentinean Dogme film set, provocatively, on the Falkland Islands. A young man, Fabian, visits the islands on holiday, but his casual filming of the community exposes the ugly anti-Argentine sentiment of this "little England". But is Fabian himself beyond reproach?

Wed 8 Nov, 9.00pm; Fri 10 Nov, 6.30pm

Sexy Beast Forget Lock, Stock... and Snatch - here's a real British gangster film, from commercials director Jonathan Glazer. Ray Winstone stars as a retired hood luxuriating in sunny retirement in his Spanish villa, until psychopathic ex-associate Ben Kingsley turns up, intent on hiring him for one last heist. Original, brilliantly shot and with muscular performances.

British Gala, Sat 11 Nov, 8.45pm

RLLF box office 020 7928 3232; for cinema locations www.lff.org.uk

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