The 50th London Film Festival has been launched with a plea from its artistic director for more public funding.
Whitaker plays dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland
"London needs more resources," Sandra Hebron told the BBC. "We lag behind other festivals of similar size and stature," she continued.
This year's event coincides with the inaugural Rome Film Festival, which Ms Hebron claimed has "three times" the resources of its British counterpart.
London, she said, "operates on a very modest budget" compared to its rivals.
"We've done a lot of consultation this year and there is a recognition that it has a huge amount of potential, but that more could be done.
"We're achieving a great deal, but there is no room to be complacent."
As previously announced, this year's festival opens on 18 October with a film version of Giles Foden's novel, The Last King of Scotland.
Directed by Kevin Macdonald, it tells of a young Scottish doctor (played by James McAvoy from Channel 4 drama Shameless) who becomes personal physician to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, played by Forest Whitaker.
Producer Andrea Calderwood said she was "delighted" it had been chosen to open the prestigious event.
"It's the perfect launch for the film in the UK and Europe," she said.
Like The Constant Gardener, last year's opening night film, The Last King of Scotland was shot on location in Africa.
Comprising 181 features and 131 shorts, the 2006 programme includes public talks from Hollywood star Dustin Hoffman and film director Tim Burton.
Gala screenings include Breaking and Entering starring Jude Law and a 3-D version of Burton's animated feature, The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Also in the line-up is Borat, a vehicle for Ali G star Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakh broadcaster character, and For Your Consideration, a new comedy from the Spinal Tap team featuring Ricky Gervais in a supporting role.
Borat sees Sacha Baron Cohen reprise his popular TV character
The programme includes several titles seen at this year's Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, among them Richard Linklater's Fast Food Nation, Truman Capote biopic Infamous and Bobby, actor Emilio Estevez's movie about the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.
The festival ends on 2 November with Babel, a drama starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett that attracted rave reviews at Cannes.
Speaking to the BBC News website, Ms Hebron drew particular attention to the British films in the programme, which include the latest offerings from Notting Hill director Roger Michell and Nottingham-based filmmaker Shane Meadows.
"It's a pleasure to say we have such a strong British line-up in this of all years," she said.