The London Film Festival 2012

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The 56th annual BFI London Film Festival started on Wednesday, and brings with it a diverse selection of films with various topics, from low budget to big budget, and from countries all over the world.

A few of the highlights...

In 3D, black-and-white, stop-motion animation, horror film Frankenweenie comes from the crazy and creative mind of director Tim Burton (in collaboration with Disney). It is about a boy who reanimates his dead dog. Sorry, no Johnny Depp in this one. Frankenweenie was the opening night gala.

West of Memphis: Johnny Depp is involved in this film. He doesn't star, but campaigned for the release of the West Memphis Three, three teen heavy metal fans convicted of a trio of child murders in 1994 Arkansas. This is a documentary of their story.

Bill Murray is back on the big screen with Hyde Park on the Hudson. He plays U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had a secret affair with his distant cousin (played by Laura Linney). Hyde Park on the Hudson centres on the weekend in 1939 when King George and Queen Elizabeth (played by Olivia Williams) payed a royal visit.

Ben Affleck, whose work seems to be getting better and better, stars in Argo, a 1970s kidnap thriller about a real life CIA agent in 1979, the year the U.S. Embassy was seized in Iran. Affleck also produced and directed.

End of Watch, an American cop movie, has Jake Gyllenhaal working the beat in Los Angeles, alongside partner Michael Pena. They work the rough area of East Los Angeles, and at the same time try to manage their relationships outside of the force.

50 years of The Rolling Stones is told in Crossfire Hurricane. All of the Stones are expected to attend the premiere in Leicester Square on Thursday Oct. 18th. Start camping out now!

In what looks to be the lift-me-up film of the festival, The Sapphires is a musical drama about an Australian girl group who are sent to Vietnam in the 1960s to entertain troops as their first gig. It's based on a real life story, and includes uplifting music, and Chris O'Dowd!

In what could be the dark horse film of the year, Beasts of the Southern Wild has its premiere at the festival and is about a six year old girl living in poverty in a remote southern village in the U.S. She has an absent mother and an alcoholic father and gets caught up in a storm (eerily similar to the Hurricane which struck New Orleans). There is Best Actress Oscar buzz for lead 8-year old actress Quvenzhane Wallis.

Dustin Hoffman makes his directorial debut about four ageing opera singers who are reunited in a specialist retirement home in Quartet. Starring Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, and Billy Connelly. Expect lots of opera reminiscing in this one.

Set before and after September 11, 2001, The Reluctant Fundamentalist tells the story of Pakistani Changez, a successful New York stockbroker who feels the cultural calling of back home. Starring Riz Ahmed (from Four Lions), Kate Hudson and Keifer Sutherland.

Great Expectations, the closing night film, is an all British production and is an adaptation of Charles Dickens novel of the same name. Directed by Mike Newell, and starring Helena Bonham Carter, Sally Hawkins and Ralph Fiennes. The film tells the story of a young orphan who lives with an abusive guardian, but when he gets older, is taken care of by a rich unknown benefactor.

The Festival will screen a total of 225 fiction and documentary films, including 12 world premieres, 12 international and 35 European premieres, and 111 live action and animated shorts. In this festival, there is something for everyone.