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Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 12:55 GMT


London Film Festival opens

American Ciivil War saga Ride with the Devil opened the festival

Emma Thompson and her boyfriend Greg Wise were among the stars attending the London premiere of Ang Lee's Ride with the Devil which kicked off the capital's 43rd annual Film Festival.

The acting couple joined members of the cast for the screening of Lee's American Civil War saga at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester on Wednesday.

[ image: Greg Wise covers up pregnant girlfriend Emma Thompson]
Greg Wise covers up pregnant girlfriend Emma Thompson
Wise, 34, met Thompson, 39 - who is soon to have his baby - in 1995 when they worked together on Lee's award-winning adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

For his new venture, Lee has enlisted a mainly young cast which includes US singer Jewel, up-and-coming Hollywood star Tobey Maguire and British actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Lee, Maguire and Rhys Meyers were also all at Wednesday night's premiere.

Ride with the Devil has already received praise following its first outing at the Toronto Film Festival in September. At this year's London festival, it's one of a wealth of acclaimed international films on show.

[ image:  ]
The closing night on 18 November sees the European premiere of Sam Mendes' tragi-comedy about mid-life angst, American Beauty, starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening.

In between Lee and Mendes, other non-UK pictures to look out for include Spike Lee's provocative Summer of Sam, set in New York in the summer of 1977 at the time of the real-life Son of Sam serial killings.

The Girl on the Bridge, starring Daniel Auteuil and pop star Vanessa Paradis, from director Paul Leconte, is a much-praised comedy from France.

While controversial US director Harmony Korine's portrayal of schizophrenia in Julien Donkey-Boy has been nominated for the festival's FIPRESCI International Critics Award.

Twenty-five-year-old Korine - who made his name with the controversial film Kids in 1995 - is the youngest film-maker at the festival. His picture is one of more than 150 from 49 countries.

[ image: Ewan McGregor makes his directorial debut with Tube Tales]
Ewan McGregor makes his directorial debut with Tube Tales
It is also part of the Experimenta section of films - just one of the seven different categories into which the capital's box office binge is broken down.

French Revolutions, Cinema Europa, Treasures from the Archives, Short Cuts/Animation and New British Cinema make up in the rest and include six world premieres, 11 European premieres and 69 UK firsts.

Despite the strong field of movies from around the world, there is no shortage of homegrown talent on show.

Mike Leigh's Gilbert and Sullivan biopic Topsy Turvy, starring Timothy Spall, Jim Broadbent and Alison Steadman shows on 9 November.

Broadbent won the Best Actor Award at the 1999 Venice Film Festival for his performance in the production, described as Leigh's most ambitious venture to date.

Londoners themselves will find something familiar in Tube Tales, which features nine short films about the trials and tribulations of life on the Underground.

[ image: Susan Sarandon is one the stars in London for the event]
Susan Sarandon is one the stars in London for the event
Tube Tales is an ambitious project which sees big name British stars Ewan McGregor and Jude Law making their directorial debuts. Those starring include Rachel Weisz, Ray Winstone, Daniela Nardini, and Denise Van Outen.

Ray Winstone can also be seen playing the hardman with a heart in Kay Mellor's romantic end-of-the-millennium comedy Fanny and Elvis.

The family gala film is October Sky, a film about a bunch of school friends who take up rocket building. Based on a NASA engineer's autobiography it is a quirky coming-of-age drama about a boy who struggled to avoid becoming a coal-miner.

The London Film Festival takes place at 10 different venues around the city.

After 18 November, a selection of its movies will visit ten other cities in the UK, counteracting the notion that it is solely an event for those in the capital.

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