Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’ opens London Film Festival

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Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’ opens London Film Festival

LONDON - This year’s London Film Festival has Ben Affleck, Dustin Hoffman and the Rolling Stones - and it’s bookended by one of the city’s premiere cinematic couples.

Britain’s biggest film showcase opens Wednesday with the European premiere of London-based American director Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie,” the animated tale of a boy and his beloved - but dead - dog.

It ends Oct. 21 with Mike Newell’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” which stars Burton’s partner, Helena Bonham Carter, as haunted Miss Havisham.

Festival director Clare Stewart said she was happy to be “bracketing the festival with one of London’s great love affairs” - the ghoul-loving filmmaker and his gothic muse.

Burton and Bonham Carter will each receive the British Film Institute Fellowship, a career achievement award, during an awards ceremony on Oct. 20.

Burton said he felt “touched and grateful to the BFI for this tremendous honor,” which has been bestowed in recent years on actors John Hurt and Ralph Fiennes and directors David Cronenberg and Danny Boyle.

Stewart, in her first year at the festival’s helm, has chosen a crowd-pleasing opener for the showcase of 225 features and 111 shorts from around the world. “Frankenweenie” - an expansion of Burton’s 1984 live-action short of the same name - has been praised as charmingly macabre, luscious-looking homage to Burton’s filmmaking roots.

“It’s a pet project for Tim Burton in every sense of the word,” said Stewart, an energetic Australian who comes to London from the Sydney Film Festival. “It leaves you feeling the way you should be feeling on opening night - energized, excited, full of joy.”

While many of the films in the lineup have already made their debuts at Sundance, Cannes, Toronto or Venice, there are 14 world premieres - notably the first-ever public screening of “Crossfire Hurricane,” a documentary about the Rolling Stones.

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