The Odeon West End played host to a veritable media scrum this morning, as the full lineup of the Times 51st BFI London Film Festival was confirmed.

Long-awaited Closing Night Gala Screening of Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited has been somewhat overshadowed by Owen Wilson's suicide bid, but the world premiere of Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs exemplifies the quality of this year's lineup.

Typically the setting for inaugural UK showings of both Oscar hopefuls and the weird and wonderful highlights of independent and world cinema, a starry showreel confirmed that this year's festival will maintain a reputation as a showcase for the brightest lights of the cinematic world.

A proposed 13 gala presentations have been trimmed to 12, after Ben Affleck's directorial debut Gone Baby Gone - a thriller based on the disappearance of a four-year-old girl - was understandably withdrawn, in light of the Madeleine McCann case.

Lions for Lambs is a complex thriller detailing the war in Afghanistan, Redford stars alongside Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise in a troubling examination of the rights and wrongs of the war on terror.

Following its Golden Lion win at the Venice Film festival, Ang Lee's Lust, Caution sees emotional intrigue and deception in 1940s China, while Halle Berry attempts to rebuild her career alongside Benicio Del Toro, in Susanne Bier's debut English language project, Things We Lost In The Fire.

Todd Haynes' offbeat I'm Not There portrays the compelling life of Bob Dylan with six different actors - including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger - and London audiences will have the chance to judge whether Brad Pitt deserved to take the Best Actor award ahead of his co-star Casey Affleck in Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Other highlights include Michael Moore's insurance docudrama Sicko, Jerry Seinfeld's animated comedy Bee Movie and Palme d'Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, from Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.

Kicking off on October 17th, the Times 51st BFI London Film Festival promises to rubbish Francis Ford Coppola's 2006 assertion that "film festivals are obsolete".

13/09/2007 16:32:05