LONDON (AP) — This year's London Film Festival is a Tom Hanks double bill with 232 other features in between.
The 12-day movie showcase opens Wednesday with "Captain Phillips," a drawn-from-life thriller starring Hanks as a cargo ship captain held captive by Somali pirates. In the festival's closer, "Saving Mr. Banks," Hanks plays a very different real-life figure — Walt Disney, sparring with British writer P.L. Travers over the movie adaptation of her children's classic "Mary Poppins." The film has its world premiere in London on Oct. 20.
Artistic director Clare Stewart said the double dose of Hanks was "a happy accident." The 57th London Film Festival offers 234 features and 134 shorts, as well as a lineup of stars including Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Radcliffe.
Founded in 1957 to show the best of world cinema to a British audience, the festival has recently tried to carve out a place on the international movie calendar with bigger pictures and more glittering stars.
"Captain Phillips" is one of several films in the lineup already generating awards-season buzz; others include Alfonso Cuaron's space odyssey "Gravity," Joel and Ethan Coen's folk saga "Inside Llewyn Davis" and Steve McQueen's powerful historical drama "12 Years A Slave."
Stewart, in her second year as festival chief, hopes to make London a more important stop for movies during Hollywood's ever-expanding awards season. Stewart said one of her goals is to draw attention to "films that might be quite surprising and are not on people's radar already."
She's particularly excited about John Curran's "Tracks," starring Mia Wasikowska as a woman who walks across the Australian Outback, and "We Are the Best," Lukas Moodysson's tale of an all-female punk band in 1980s' Sweden.
"Our official competition gives us the opportunity to shed light on some films that might be positioning themselves for some of the performing awards in awards season, or for some of the foreign-language prizes," Stewart said.
The festival will hand out prizes for best picture, best first feature, best documentary and best British newcomer at an Oct. 19 ceremony. Horror icon Christopher Lee will receive an honorary British Film Institute Fellowship.