Director Mike Leigh's award-winning film Vera Drake has had its UK premiere at the opening of the London Film Festival.
Mike Leigh hopes the film will spark discussion about abortion
The controversial film, about a female abortionist working in the 1950s, had picked up the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.
British actress Imelda Staunton also received plaudits for her performance as the illegal abortionist.
The London festival will showcase more than 180 films during its two-week run.
At Wednesday night's premiere, Leigh said he hoped the low-budget film, which he quipped was made for "about five shillings" would ignite a debate on the issue of abortion.
"I'm pro-choice but I hope this is a film that does not
bludgeon the audience in black and white. It's a moral dilemma," he said.
Staunton said making the film had been an extraordinary experience.
"We were taking huge risks but we were in safe hands. There was no script, no character, you had to create and invent it."
Phil Davis, who plays Vera's husband, played down the possibility of the film receiving a heated reception from British audiences.
"Although it's a controversial subject I don't think it will cause too much controversy here."
Director Anthony Minghella was also at the festival's opening. He said: "I like the way there are no gongs and no trophy at the Film Festival. It's very unadulterated."
Among the other films scheduled to show at the festival are the latest Pixar animation The Incredibles, Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda and Danny Boyle's movie Millions.
Vera Drake won the Golden Lion and best actress in Venice
Stars expected to be in London during the festival include Kevin Bacon and Reese Witherspoon, who will be promoting her Bollywood version of Vanity Fair.
The festival will close on 4 November with a gala screening of I Heart Huckabees, an existential comedy starring Jude Law, Jason Schwartzman and Naomi Watts.
As well as predicted blockbusters, the festival will also screen many art house movies from around the world including China, Angola and Uruguay.