The 41st London Film Festival gets underway next month. Geoffrey Macnab provides a preview of some of the highlights
As the London Film Festival's brochure notes, this year's event offers "a wealth of cinema from all around the world". You'd hardly expect it to do otherwise, but with foreign language distribution in the UK in a rut, the LFF now provides one of the few opportunities for British cinemagoers to vary their usual diet of blockbusters, comedies and indie films from the Taranteenies.

New festival director Adrian Wooton has taken the patriotic route, opening the festival with Robert Bierman's Keep The Aspidistra Flying (right), an adaptation of George Orwell's novel which, if the trailer is anything to go by, sees Richard E Grant dusting down his Withnail routine for the 1930s. Other high-profiles "Galas" include Mike Figgis's One Night Stand, starring Wesley Snipes and Nastassya Kinski, Claude Berri's French Resistance epic, Laurie Aubrac, Spaniard David Trueba's growing pains comedy The Good Life, and Twentyfour Seven, the debut feature from British prodigy Shane Meadows, who is fast shaping up as Nottingham's answer to Orson Welles.

Titles worth looking out for in the US Indies sidebar include Jonathan Nossiter's Sundance Festival winner, Sunday, a sort of Brief Encounter for the 1990s starring David Suchet and Lisa Harron, Neil LaBute's very nasty psycho-drama about men behaving badly, In The Company of Men, and Matthew Harrison's Kicked in the Head, a New York street tale which was executive-produced by Martin Scorsese.

A formidable Facing East section features four films that have already scooped major awards at either Venice, Cannes or Berlin, Takeshi Kitano's violent cop thriller, Hana-Bi, Wong Kar-Wai's Buenos-Aires based gay love story Happy Together, Shohei Imamura's The Eel and He Liu's The River. Among the treats from the archive are His Lordship, a recently rediscovered Michael Powell film from 1932, and a new print of David Lean's Oliver Twist.

The 41st London Film Festival runs from 6-23 November 1997; screenings are open to the public and take place at selected West End cinemas, the ICA, the Museum Cinema and the National Film Theatre. Festival hotline: 0171-420 1122