BFI London Film Festival Opens With European Premiere of Tim Burton's 'Frankenweenie'

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Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton

Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara and Helena Bonham Carter all hit the red carpet for the curtain raiser.

LONDON – Tim Burton, Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara and Helena Bonham Carter and the BFI London Film Festival's red carpet provided a splash of color as the European premiere of Burton's black and white 3D movie Frankenweenie opened this year's shindig.

With a voice cast including O’Hara, Short, Martin Landau and Winona Ryder, the movie details the story of a boy who brings his dog back to life after his faithful companion dies unexpectedly.

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The filmmaker's first Disney-backed stop motion animation heralds the beginning of 10 days of gala screenings, industry discussions and a new look standalone awards ceremony for the London festival.

Burton's appearance at the festival is a home-game of sorts for the filmmaker as he lives in the U.K. for much of the year and shot the remake of his own 1984 live-action short of the same name at 3 Mills studios in the east end of the British capital.

Burton told the industry heavy audience that when he started working on the film at the studio in the East end, "there was nothing there."

He drew laughs adding: "The next time we went back there was an Olympic stadium built."

Burton noted he's made a lot of films in the U.K.  because there are so many talented "painters and sculptors" here.

He introduced voice cast members to the stage including Short, O'Hara and gave a shout out to Landau who was sitting in the auditorium.

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Exec producer Don Hahn and producer Allison Abbate also strolled on.

The opening gala held in London's Leicester Square, now re-opened after undergoing a refurbishment that lasted more than a year, begins a first festival for a new look BFI LFF team.

This year's festival is under the watchful eye of the BFI's head of exhibition and distribution Clare Stewart, sporting a fresh title, job and responsibilities after securing the job as the organization rang the changes in structure last year.

Stewart took up the reins in July last year and took charge of the LFF after BFI LFF artistic director Sandra Hebron exited at the conclusion of last year’s event in October.

Stewart said when she took up the reins, she inherited a festival in rude health.

"But it was at full capacity and we needed to find ways to grow," Stewart said.

She has reduced the length of the festival but upped the content and introduced genre categories for the public to find tickets for.

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Also in a first for the festival, the opening night screening and red carpet went out live from the Odeon Leicester Square to BFI Imax and 30 screens across the U.K., in partnership with American Express and Disney.

Over 10 days the Festival plans to screen a total of 227 fiction anddocumentary features, including 14 world premieres, including Brett Morgan's documentary Crossfire Hurricane about 50 years of the Rolling Stones.

The festival  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 Oct. 21 with Mike Newell's Great Expections.

The 56th BFI London Film Festival runs October 10 through 21.

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