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Women to feature strongly at London Film Festival



Story by: Jack Foley

SOME of Hollywood's leading actresses are to feature prominently at this year's London Film Festival, which takes place from October 22 to November 6 this year.

Meg Ryan, Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow are some of the established stars whose new projects will be given a high profile, as will work by Sofia Coppola, Emily Young and Iranian sisters Samira and Hana Makhmalbaf.

Ryan's film, In The Cut, which is produced by Nicole Kidman and directed by Jane Campion, has been chosen to open the festival, while New Zealander, Christine Jeffs' Sylvia, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, will bring events to a close, two weeks later.

Sylvia is the highly anticipated film of the relationship between American writer, Sylvia Plath, and husband, Ted Hughes, played by Road To Perdition star, Daniel Craig.

The festival also marks Sandra Hebron's first as its sole artistic director.

The programme was launched in London's Leicester Square on Wednesday, when Ms Hebron said that this year's line-up had 'both glamour and substance'.

It will represent work from 45 countries - from perfectly formed three minute shorts to an experimental Chinese epic of over nine hours.

"I'm delighted with the quality and range of the selection, and pleased to be able to present such a dynamic and relevant programme," explained Ms Hebron.

"From high profile international premieres and quirky independent features to socially and culturally illuminating documentaries, archive restorations and a wealth of short films and videos, this is without doubt one of our strongest ever programmes.

"The generosity and commitment of so many film-makers planning to attend the Festival to present their work, combined with an exciting mix of special events and educational activities, promises to make this a lively and memorable year."

Of the films to look out for, apart from In The Cut and Sylvia, are Kidman's duo, Dogville, directed by Lars von Trier, and The Human Stain, in which she stars alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins.

The festival's gala section features new works from Bernardo Bertolucci, John Sayles, Notting Hill's Roger Michell and Amores Perros director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

Of the more commercial movies, the US horse-racing hit, Seabiscuit, starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper, as well as Wonderland - in which Val Kilmer plays legendary porn actor, John Holmes - and A Mighty Wind, the latest satire from the Spinal Tap team, will feature in the Film on the Square strand.

BFI director Amanda Nevill said more than 45 countries were represented at the festival and more than 100,000 filmgoers are expected to attend.

And Robert Thomson, editor of The Times, which is sponsoring the event for the first time this year, added: "This outstanding collection of films clearly demonstrate how the Festival celebrates both the mainstream and the esoteric, the domestic and the foreign, the youthful and the sagely matured talents who collectively create ‘the film industry’.

"The Times is proud to be the title sponsor of the Festival and to provide the best coverage of cinema in Britain."

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