UK & World News

  • 14 October 2012, 9:34

London Film Festival Gets Award Makeover

The London Film Festival has been given a major makeover in an attempt to lure stardust from other top cinema competitions from around the world.

The 12-day festival has boosted its competitive section and awards to help it compete with top festivals.

A total of 225 films from 50 countries are being shown during the festival that is now in its 56th year.

Director Tim Burton was given the honour of kicking off the festival on October 10 with Frankenweenie, his four legged Frankenstein movie.

His actress partner Helena Bonham Carter will close the festival next Sunday with Great Expectations, and the pair will be given special fellowship awards on October 20.

However some question the ability of the London event, hosted by the British Film Institute, to compete head-to-head with the world's most famous festivals.

Metro film editor Larushka Ivan-Zadeh said: "I think it's more of a token gesture in a way, it's very hard to make an award really noticeable.

"You've got Cannes, Venice and Berlin and you see at the top (of film posters) it won the Silver Bear at Berlin or the Golden Lion at Venice.

"I have never seen a film that says, 'I've won the London Film Festival', it would almost be, is that all you've won - is that the best you can come up with?

"And I think it'll be very hard to change that attitude."

London-based Burton, however, believes the city can easily hold its own on the global film stage.

"London is London, it's unique. I don't think it needs to worry about competing with other festivals because people love coming here," he told Sky News.

"I certainly love living here and it's just a case of let it be what it is. Nobody (else) can be London."

Some of the festival highlights include The Rolling Stones, who will be turning out to support Crossfire Hurricane, a documentary marking their 50-year anniversary.

Dustin Hoffman also makes his directorial debut with Quartet starring Maggie Smith, while Bill Murray will be the main attraction in Hyde Park On Hudson.

Ben Affleck's Argo has already been tipped as an Oscar contender.

Festival director Clare Stewart said this year's programme was divided into themes such as 'love', 'cult' and 'thrill' - but industry players are still being catered for.

"The priority is the films actually and of course the audience that come out for those films but also the industry," she told Sky.

"We do run a very extensive industry programme here as well with development initiatives and financing initiatives and we're also a market place for buyers and sellers."

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