London off to 'Promises' start


The Times BFI London Film Festival kicked off Wednesday with the un-spooling of David Cronenberg's London-set Russian gangster noir "Eastern Promises" at the Odeon Leicester Square.

The red-carpet gala, one of several special gala events programmed by the organizers for the 51st edition of the U.K.'s largest noncompetitive film festival, was introduced to a packed house by festival director Sandra Hebron.

Cronenberg was on hand to introduce his movie alongside stars Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel.

For the next two weeks, the British capital promises to play host to several sparkling shindigs, with heavy U.S. representation.

Upcoming high-profile screenings include the world premiere of Robert Redford's "Lions for Lambs," starring Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep, and galas for Steve Buscemi's "Interview," in which he stars alongside Sienna Miller, and Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan portrait "I'm Not There," which stars Cate Blanchett as the singer-songwriter.

Festival organizers also are ramping up industry events, adding a Production Finance Market to the roster. The two-day market will take place Monday and Tuesday and focus on new private forms of investment, film finance and fresh distribution avenues, the festival's industry office said.

The festival runs through Nov. 1, closing with a gala for Wes Anderson's India-set comic caper "The Darjeeling Limited."