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Excitement Building As London Film Festival Turns 50

Thursday, August 10---Excitement is building in London, one of the world's great film cities, as details are being revealed for the upcoming Times BFI London Film Festival, which celebrates its milestone 50th anniversary this year.

The celebrations have begun this summer, with an ambitious screening of films that were featured in the very first London Film Festival, back in 1957. The National Film Theater, the cinematheque treasure run by the British Film Institute, which also presents the annual Festival, has presented a glorious program of highlights from the first Festival program.

London audiences have been able to see such film classics as Federico Fellini's NIGHTS OF CABIRIA, Luchino Visconti's WHITE NIGHTS, Rene Clair's PORTE DES LILAS, Grigori Chukrai's THE FORTY-FIRST and Satjayit Ray's APARAJITO in an intoxicating hommage to the Festival's inaugural year.

But the Festival is not resting on its historic laurels. This year's edition promises to one of the Fall's most exciting film events, with special programs being planned at the National Film Theater, London cinemas and in public spaces around the city.

This week, the Festival announced that it will open its 50th edition on October 18th with the European premiere of THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, directed by Oscar-winning documentary director Kevin Macdonald.

Based on the award-winning novel by Giles Foden, the film stars Forest Whitaker as the tyrannical Ugandan President Idi Amin. Shot in Uganda and the UK, the film follows an incredible twist of fate when a Scottish doctor, played by James McAvoy(THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA)becomes irreversibly entangled with the legendary African dictator.

Whitaker is being touted as a possible Oscar contender for his withering performance in the film. Set to be released in the US this Fall and in the UK in January by Fox Searchlight, the film also features memorable performances by Gillian Anderson (A COCK AND BULL STORY), Kerry Washington (FANTASTIC FOUR) and Simon McBurney (FRIENDS WITH MONEY).

THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND is the first fiction feature from Kevin Macdonald, who won an Academy Award in 1999 for ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER, a harrowing account of the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972; and a BAFTA Award in 2003 for TOUCHING THE VOID, the inspiring tale of two mountain climbers and their perilous journey in the Peruvian Andes.

"THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND is a perfect Opening Night film for us", Sandra Hebron, the Festival’s Artistic Director commented. It is a compellingly original British feature from an imaginative and talented young director."

Further announcements on the Festival slate, as well as special events that will kick off in September, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Sandy Mandelberger

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