Fernando Meirelles’ 360 will be the opening night film at the 55th BFI London Film Festival, which will be the last under the stewardship of artistic director Sandra Hebron.
Meirelles has history with the LFF – The Constant Gardener opened the festival in 2005 – although many Brit pundits had been expecting Hebron to unveil a world premiere to crown her final year. But that’s never been a major motivation for the LFF’s extremely popular head when it comes to programming Europe’s largest non-competitive film festival. Although the 2009 festival opened with a splashy world premiere for The Fantastic Mr. Fox, last year’s LFF debutante was Never Let Me Go, which bowed first in Toronto. The same will go for 360.
The deciding factor was most likely the powerhouse British talent that can turn up in red-carpet support on the night. Rachel Weisz, Jude Law and Sir Anthony Hopkins all star in Meirelles’ modern-day love story, inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s play La Ronde and based on a script by The Queen and Frost/Nixon screenwriter Peter Morgan. A kaleidoscope of interconnected love stories that span the globe from Vienna to Rio to Bratislava to Phoenix, 360 features Law and Weisz at its centre as a couple whose marriage – namely his decision to stay faithful to her – sparks a series of unforeseen consequences. Hopkins plays a man searching for his missing daughter in the US, with Ben Foster, Jamel Debbouze, Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Moritz Bleibtreu also in key roles.
Hebron cited the film’s “masterful visual story telling”, “a moving narrative” and “strong performances from a terrific ensemble cast” as the chief reasons for making 360 her opening-night pick.
The announcement of the LFF’s closing-night film comes later this week, with contenders including Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady (an early tip for opening night) and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, which was finalizing its edi too late for the North American fall fests, is another possibility.