The London Film Festival
Every November, our capital city plays host to The London Film Fesitval where approx 300 films are screened, using several venues. Gala premieres, masterclasses with directors and stars, and the opportunity to get early viewings of the riches from world cinema ensures film buffs flock to London during the course of 14 breathless days.
This year, David Cronenberg's EASTERN PROMISES is the opening night Gala film, while Wes Anderson's THE DARJEELING LIMITED has been chosen as the festival closer. In between, we have onstage interviews with Steve Buscemi, Harmony Korine, David Lynch discussing Trancendental Meditation, Laura Linnney, Wes Anderson and the films include Richard Attenborough's CLOSING THE RING, Fassbinder-inspired social drama THE EDGE OF HEAVEN, the remake of FUNNY GAMES starring Naomi Watts, John Sayle's latest HONEYDRIPPER, Sean Penn's INTO THE WILD, Michael Moore's SICKO and many more.
The LFF holds many memories for me. It was at the festival that I first saw such personal favourites as KILLING ZOE, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, SNAKE EYES (aka DANGEROUS GAME), THE FUNERAL, AUTO FOCUS, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and beautiful restorations of classics such as NOSEFERATU and THE LOST WORLD. I'll also cite the premiere screening of Cronenberg's CRASH as the highlight of my viewing there. Just 24 hours before the screening, the authorities were trying to get the screening banned. Full marks to The British Film Institute who stood up to enormous pressure and insisted the show would go on, and arranged for DC himself to introduce the film and conduct a marvellous Q&A after.
In those days, it was a case of booking 3 nights stay in London and cramming in 9 or 10 movies during my stay. Since getting married, I haven't had the spare cash to allow for a festival visit but this year, I'm back!
My wife is American and, as she's never been to London, I thought it would be nice to show her around and also take in a festival screening. So, on 18th October we'll be seeing the second showing of EASTERN PROMISES with front row seats.
I'm a big Cronenberg fan and will be taking a look at this and other films from his impressive cv over the coming months.
This event will also mark my return to one of my favourite London cinemas, The Odeon Westend in the heart of Leicester Square. This venue has been one of the mainstays of the LFF for many years, and also plays host to Frightfest, THE event of the year for fans of Horror Cinema.
I've made many good friends at film fests, and while I love the riches DVD has to offer, I firmly believe the big screen is the best way to see a film. The atmosphere of a film festival is rather special, and I can't wait to renew this long-standing releationship.