'Captain Phillips' to open BFI London Film Festival

Posted by · 7:46 am · August 1st, 2013

Well, if it’s good enough for New York, it’s good enough for London. On Monday, Paul Greengrass’ fact-based thriller “Captain Phillips” was announced as the curtain-raiser for next month’s New York Film Festival, where it’ll have its world premiere. And nearly two weeks later, it’ll have its European premiere as the Opening Film for the BFI London Film Festival, which runs from October 9 to 20. 

It would appear, in fact, that “Captain Phillips” is the Opening Film du jour this autumn: it’s also doing the honors at the Tokyo fest in October. These repeat engagements lend a further veneer of prestige to the Oscar hopeful, seemingly justifying Sony’s decision to bypass the first wave of fall festivals and unveil the film closer to its US release date on October 11. It’s been a much-desired title on the fest circuit: Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera has admitted that he was keen to secure the film’s world premiere, but was denied by the studio. 

As a public-oriented “festival of festivals,” London isn’t usually able to nab high-profile world premieres: “Frost/Nixon” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” made their first appearance on the LFF’s opening night in 2008 and 2009 respectively, but those were exceptional occurrences. With that in mind, “Captain Phillips” makes perfect sense as an opener: Greengrass is a local son, while the appearance of Tom Hanks on the red carpet will bring a media-friendly shot of Hollywood sparkle to the proceedings.

The rest of the lineup for the London Film Festival, which is being overseen for the second year by former Sydney fest director Clare Stewart, will be announced on September 4. Last year’s festival opened with Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie,” while Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” took the Best Film prize.

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