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Tim Burton hails special moment as Frankenweenie opens London Film Festival


Story by Jack Foley

TIM BURTON has described being chosen to open the 56th BFI London Film Festival as “amazing”.

His latest film, Frankenweenie, was shot in London [at Three Mills Studio] and officially kicked off this year’s festival with a star-studded opening night gala at London’s Odeon Leicester Square on Wednesday, October 10, 2012.

And speaking at a press conference earlier in the day, the legendary filmmaker said what it meant to him.

“It is special because it was made here. It’s strange, when we first started the film there was no Olympic Stadium and by the time we finished it, it was all over [laughs] so that tells you how long this took to make.”

A remake of a short film Burton made at the beginning of his career, and which prompted his early departure from Disney in 1984, the film is an homage to classic horror stories such as Frankenstein and tells the story of a boy who tries to bring his pet dog Sparky back to life.

It’s shot in black-and-white, incorporates 3D and uses Burton’s favoured stop-motion form of animation. All three components were part of the appeal of revisiting it, he said.

“Doing stop-motion and the drawings in black and white and thinking about the kids you remembered from school and the weird teachers, it just became a real memory piece. And the purity of stop-motion… for me, the idea of seeing stop-motion in 3D and black and white was exciting,” he elaborated.

“And then being able to work with loads of people that I’ve worked with in the past and loved just made it more special.”

Some of those people also were in town to walk the red carpet with him, most notably Martin Short, Martin Landau and Catherine O’Hara, who all voice characters in the film.

Burton himself was also joined by his partner Helena Bonham Carter, whose own latest film, Great Expectations, will close the festival on October 21.

To add to Burton’s memories of the day, it was also announced that he and Bonham Carter will be presented with the BFI’s highest honour, the BFI Fellowship, at this year’s awards ceremony on October 20.

This year’s festival is four days shorter than in 2011 and sees a new director overseeing things in the form of Clare Stewart.

She has opted for a more streamlined approach with the film programme divided into themes such Love, Laugh, Cult, Thrill and Debate.

She described Burton as a “visionary director” and said Frankenweenie was an ideal choice for the opening gala.

“This film was made in London with over 200 British craftspeople, so it felt like the perfect choice, not only because of Tim’s vision, but also because of that very British contribution,” she told the BBC.

Read our review of Frankenweenie