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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 21:42 GMT
Stars turn out for festival gala
London Film Festival Premiere
Cast members Chiwitel Ejiofor, Sophie Okonedo and Benedict Wong were among guests

Glitz and glamour came to London's Leicester Square on Wednesday night as the Regus London Film Festival kicked off.

The cast of the opening night film, the London-set thriller Dirty Pretty Things, were out in full force - headed by Amelie star Audrey Tautou.

The film's director Stephen Frears also attended the event, along with other cast members Chiwitel Ejiofor, Sophie Okonedo and Benedict Wong.

And they were joined by a host of celebrities - from British stars Nick Moran, Joseph Fiennes and James Purefoy, to Hollywood star Woody Harrelson.

The film, Frears' first since High Fidelity, is about the trials of a group of illegal immigrants living and working in London.

Vulgar

The director, sporting a suit and baseball boots, said it was "terrific" that his latest project had been chosen to open this year's festival, adding that he had chosen to direct the film on account of its strong storyline.

"I liked the fact that it was a thriller," he told BBC News Online. "I'm very vulgar, I like that sort of thing. I like the popular forms of cinema, and film stars."
Stephen Frears
Stephen Frears: "I like the popular forms of film-making"

Frears also praised the work of French actress Tautou.

"Audrey Tautou seemed to me to be a wonderful actress," he told BBC News Online. "She was tough and vulnerable at the same time. I could tell she was the real thing - she was absolutely brilliant."

Tautou prepared for her role as an illegal Turkish immigrant by spending time with other women who had been in a similar situation, in order to find out more about their experiences.

"I met some Turkish women, including one who had had the same kind of experience as my character," she said, "and we talked about the kind of feelings she had when she arrived in London."

"But my character is a very singular person so it was interesting to know how they felt when they arrived."

Curtain-raiser

Her co-star, Clocking Off's Sophie Okonedo, said that the film exposes a side of London which is rarely seen on screen.

"It's really talking about the invisible people of London, the ones who don't have passports to stay here, who have fled countries for political reasons," she said.
Audrey Tautou
French actress Audrey Tautou plays a Turkish immigrant in the film

"But on another layer, it's a thriller, it's a love story, so it's got it all."

Dirty Pretty Things is the curtain-raiser for a fortnight of festival films being shown throughout the West End and on London's South Bank, as well as venues in Kilburn and South London.

Films from 48 countries are being shown this year, with strong showings from South Asia, Argentina, the Czech Republic and Denmark.


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