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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Iraq invades London Film Festival
By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

A scene from Redacted
Redacted focuses on a group of US soldiers accused of rape in Iraq
Movies about the Iraq war and the "war on terror" feature prominently in this year's London Film Festival line-up.

Nick Broomfield's Battle for Haditha and Brian De Palma's Redacted both deal with reported real-life atrocities involving US marines in Iraq.

Tom Cruise stars in Lions for Lambs, about the Afghanistan conflict, and is due to attend the film's screening.

Meryl Streep, Sean Penn and Halle Berry are among the other stars expected at the event, which starts on 17 October.

Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, which recently won the Golden Lion at Venice, will be screened, as will the film that won the top prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival - 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days.

As previously announced, the festival will open with David Cronenberg's London-set thriller Eastern Promises.

It will close two weeks later with Wes Anderson's India-set comedy The Darjeeling Limited.

Celebrity guests

But following the decision to postpone its UK release, child abduction drama Gone Baby Gone has been withdrawn from the event.

Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise in Lions for Lambs
Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise are both expected to attend
Other celebrity guests will include US actors Laura Linney and Steve Buscemi, British director Paul Greengrass and cult filmmaker David Lynch.

In a line-up containing more than 180 features, Lions for Lambs, directed by Robert Redford, stands out for its story of two university students caught up in the conflict in Afghanistan.

Cruise, Streep and Redford himself head the cast of the film, scheduled for UK release on 9 November.

De Palma's drama Redacted focuses on a group of soldiers stationed in Iraq who are accused of rape, while Broomfield's Battle for Haditha dramatises an alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians.

'Politically engaged'

Grace is Gone, meanwhile, tells of a widower, played by John Cusack, who is unable to tell his daughters their mother, a US soldier, has been killed in Iraq.

A scene from Battle for Haditha
Nick Broomfield's film features a number of ex-Marines
The festival's artistic director Sandra Hebron admitted the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan provided a recurring theme this year.

"It's certainly clear this is something filmmakers are wrestling with," she told the BBC News website.

"There's a long history of films that are socially or politically engaged. This year we're seeing a particular manifestation of that."

Hebron also tipped several of the films to figure highly in next year's awards season.

"The timing of the festival is very sympathetic to film companies and filmmakers hoping to have a presence in the awards window," she said.

Oscar contenders

The potential Oscar contenders on display include Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There and Brad Pitt western The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.

Bee Movie
Jerry Seinfeld voices Barry Benson, the insect hero of Bee Movie
Cate Blanchett was named best actress at Venice for her role in I'm Not There, while Pitt won best actor.

Both their films will receive gala premieres in London, as will Michael Moore's controversial healthcare documentary Sicko and animated feature Bee Movie.

Ms Hebron said she was particularly pleased the event would open with Eastern Promises, "a film about contemporary London", which she called "a gift for the festival".

She said the film - a thriller about Russian criminals in the capital - was evidence of "a marked increase is the number of filmmakers making films away from their own countries".

Cinema, she told the BBC News website, was "an increasingly global phenomenon".

"If film is about helping us explore our lives and other people's, surely it must be appealing to investigate that away from home," she said.

Details of the London film festival

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