The Times BFI London Film Festival ended on a memorably high note with actor/director George Clooney, appearing in support of the closing film Good Night and Good Luck with his girlfriend Lisa Snowdon.
Clooney's film about the real life tussle in the 50's between CBS broadcast journalist Ed Morrow and communist witchhunt campaigning senator Joseph McCarthy, nearly didn't get made with Clooney damaging his back during the filming as a result of his actions on another project Syriana
Clooney was happy to spend 24 hours in London in support of his film and ran into a paparazzi circus outside the cinema afterwards, on his way to the after-show party. The film made the headlines the following morning, by which time Clooney was heading back across the Atlantic.
Twenty odd days before that, the 49th BFI Times London Fest had begun in stunning form with director Fernando Meirelles, actors Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz and writer John Le CarrÃ© complete with umbrellas, enlivening a downpour-struck opening film The Constant Gardener, which is due out in the next 7 days and is already picking up a host of decent reviews.
A review of the numbers shows that the fest included 138 UK premieres, 371 film screenings, nearly 1500 visiting filmmakers and industry professionals and 6% more sold out screenings than last year.
Of the surprise events in the fest, highlights had to be the decent Screen talks given by the likes of Guy Pearce and Gael Garcia Bernal, the worthwhile panel discussion including members of Britain's Quad rugby team that supported the screening of Murderball, the lively Q&A's that followed the screenings of James Marsh's The King and Michael Haneke's Hidden and the appearances of ex-Pythons Michael Palin and Terry Jones in support of Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm.
Prizes awarded at the Closing Gala included Jane Lloyd winner of the TCM Short film award for her film Happy, the winner of the Grierson award Michael Glawogger's Working Man's Death, and Kari Paljakka's For the Living and the Dead winning the BFI Sutherland trophy, which organiser Sandra Hebron called "its an intimate and unflinching portrait of a grieving family".
The Satyajit Ray Foundation gives an Award every year to a first feature and this year's winner pipping films like Shark in the head and Ultranova to the post, was Perry Ogden's beautifully realised portrayal of the travelling community in Dublin Pavee Lackeen which is due out on UK cinema screens in January or February of next year.
Winner of the Alfred Dunhill UK film talent award was Producer Gayle Griffiths who produced Song of Songs for this year's programme. Griffiths was seen as a brightly emerging British talent and won Â£15,000 through the award from Alfred Dunhill.
Finally the 8th Fipresci International Critics awards winner was Ramin Bahrani's Man Push Cart which Jury member George Perry was proud to call "a beautiful study of an exiled Pakistani living in New York with a powerful performance from Ahmad Razvi at the heart of it."
LFF does UK tour
The London film festival now goes on tour beginning in Dublin and runs at other venues across the UK until the end of the year, with Sutherland trophy winner For the living and the dead.
For many though, memories of this year's festival is sure to rest with the appearances of a host of stars and given that Steve Coogan, Kirsten Dunst, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Wilkinson, Claire Danes, Lenny Henry, Damian Lewis all made appearances together with directors such as Atom Egoyan, Cameron Crowe, Shane Black, Gabriele Salvatores, Francois Ozon, and Thom Fitzgerald not forgetting the aforementioned George Clooney, it left many thinking that the 50th Centenary edition of the London Film Festival next year is going to have to go it some if its going to eclipse this year's effort.
More coverage of the London Film Festival