How often does it happen that cinema finds a common platform for celebration, one where film, art and culture is critiqued and appreciated without any bias to nationality, form or reason. And in 1956 a group of film critics including Powell, taking queue from Cannes, raised the notion of a film festival for London. This gave audiences an opportunity to appreciate international film making, in a way which they never imagined before. So the Times BFI London Film Festival, Europe’s largest public film event, which runs for two weeks every autumn, began showcasing the best in contemporary cinema from around the world at venues across London to the liking of the British audiences.
Even today in its 51 year of running, it is met with equal amount of anticipation where selected films, a mix of features, documentaries, shorts, and animations are screened .The 2007 LFF was kicked off on 17 October with artistic director Sandra Hepburn unveiling the 184 features, 133 shorts, screen talks, master classes and live events that will be shown at this year’s event. The red carpet was set ablaze by Hollywood’s A-listed actors including Cruise, Streep, Andrew Garfield and Michael Pena, alongside actor-director Redford and producer Wagner. Opening the festival this year was David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, with Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel. It follows a mid-wife’s quest to draw the family lineage of a teenage girl who dies whilst in childbirth, and eventually finds herself in a world populated by Russian gangsters. Like David Cronenberg’s last year Oscar nominated film ‘A History of Violence’ this film with its well orchestrated scenes and breathtaking cinematography keeps audiences glued to their seats till the last scene. What is well appreciated in the film is the fight scene which leaves audiences gasping for breath.
Other films screened at the event included Academy award winner Robert Redford directed ‘Lions for Lambs’, and ‘Into the Wild’ based on a true story and best selling book by Jon Krakauer.
Ending this years Film Festival would be New York Film Festivals opening night selection – ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman.This highly acclaimed film traces the lives of tree brothers, the eldest played by Owen Wilson, and their attempts to re-forge family bonds by taking a train trip across the vibrant landscape of India. The curtains drew on this two week long celebration on 1 November just leaving audience with more memories for the next year to come.
Amanjit Singh Khanna