Paul Greengrass 'honoured' to open BFI London Film Festival

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The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.
September 4th, 2013

Paul Greengrass says it's a ''big honour'' to open the BFI London Film Festival with his new movie 'Captain Phillips'.

The BAFTA Award-winning director will launch the 57th annual movie gala on October 9 with his Tom Hanks-starring high-stakes thriller about the 2009 hijacking of US Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates, and he is delighted by the distinction, especially as it will allow him to fly the flag for his home country.

Speaking to BANG Showbiz at the press launch of the London Film Festival today (04.09.13), he said: ''It's a very, very big honour. It's an absolute thrill. I'm a British filmmaker, I've always made films here, including this one. Although it wasn't shot here, it was a largely British crew. I believe passionately in British filmmaking and British talent, in front of and behind the camera, so to be asked to open the festival is a huge, huge honour.''

'Captain Phillips' leading man Tom Hanks will have the unique role of opening and closing the festival, as his Walt Disney biopic 'Saving Mr. Banks' will serve as the closing night gala on October 20.

Other films set to screen at this year's 12-day extravaganza include Alfonso Cuaron's breathtaking space adventure 'Gravity', starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney; Joel and Ethan Coen's 'Inside Llewyn Davis' with Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan, which took home the Grand Prix award at Cannes earlier this year; Steve McQueen's '12 Years a Slave' starring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender; and 'The Dark Knight Rises' actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut, comedy 'Don Jon'.

The 57th annual BFI London Film Festival is set to be the biggest yet, boasting 22 world premieres and 29 European premieres, and many of the films being shown will be vying for acclaim in the lead-up to the BAFTAs and Oscars.

BFI CEO Amanda Nevill told BANG: ''Producers want their films to be in the London Film Festival because it is very close to the awards season and it is the perfect opportunity to get that really important spotlight on the films.''

The BFI London Film Festival takes place between October 9 and 20.

For more information and the full festival line-up visit http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff.