BFI London Film Festival Kicks Off With 'Captain Phillips'

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Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson

The U.K.'s largest movie festival begins as Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass take to the red carpet to herald 12 days of galas, stars and film festivities.

LONDON -- ­ British filmmaker Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks graced the red carpet for the European gala of Captain Phillips for the opening of this year's BFI London Film Festival.

The movie, which stars Hanks as the titular captain of a U.S. container ship that was hijacked off the Somali coast in 2009, heralded the beginning of the 12-day movie jamboree from the British capital.

At the opening ceremony, which was beamed around the U.K. to 30 screens live from London's Odeon Leicester Square, autograph hunters gathered to cheer Hanks, who was accompanied by his wife Rita Wilson outside the theater. BFI chief executive Amanda Nevill welcomed the guests and thanked sponsors for their financial support for the festival. Clare Stewart, marking her sophomore edition as the BFI's head of exhibition and distribution, took to the stage to welcome Greengrass and company.

PHOTOS: On Board With 'Captain Phillips': Exclusive Portraits of Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi

With Hanks starring in both the opening and closing film, Saving Mr. Banks, and the fact he is a producer on Parkland, which will have its own LFF gala -- Stewart joked about how next year's festival may have to create a "Hanks" sidebar. Along with thanking producers Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Stewart also thanked Sony for bringing Captain Phillips to the festival. Stewart introduced Greengrass to the stage with the director immediately bringing Hanks up to applause.

"If tonight goes well, I'll come back," promised Hanks, who also gave a shout out to the cast and crew in the audience and producers Scott Rudin, de Luca and Brunetti. "We all survived a trip on the SS Greengrass," Hanks quipped.

Greengrass, a Londoner, thanked his dad who was "somewhere in the audience" as the movie began.

The 57th BFI London Film Festival, in partnerhship with American Express, will welcome over 500 guests for the 12 day event including over 150 directors with over 110 actors in tow for the 235 feature films set to unspool.

VIDEO: 'Captain Phillips' Trailer: Tom Hanks Negotiates With Pirates

Talent expected to show for the various gala events and festival shindigs includes Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Jason Reitman, Tom Hiddleston, Jesse Eisenberg, John Curran, Dane DeHaan, Alex Gibney, Greg Wise, Robin Wright, Ari Folman, Anna Kendrick, Emily Mortimer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Charlie Cox, Jodie Whittaker, Christian Cooke, Annabelle Wallis, Tahar Rahim, David Thewlis and Terry Gilliam.

The event will also play host to its usual mix of career interviews, masterclasses, and other special events with cast, crew and filmmakers.

The festival will close with the world premiere of John Lee Hancock's Saving Mr. Banks about Walt Disney and the creative process behind the groundbreaking British musical Mary Poppins.

The festival runs Oct. 9 through 20.