'Matilda' leads celebrity-filled lineup at London film fest

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Alisha Weir, left, and Emma Thompson pose for photographers at the photo call for the film 'Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical' during the 2022 BFI London Film Festival in London, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. (Photo by Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)

LONDON – After a pared down, pandemic-affected edition in 2021, the BFI London Film Festival is back in full swing this year.

The annual event kicks off Wednesday evening with the premiere of a new, musical action adaptation of “Matilda” — the first time in a decade that a family-friendly film has opened the festival.

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Based on the story by Roald Dahl and featuring the songs of Tim Minchin, newcomer Alisha Weir takes the lead role with support from stars Emma Thompson, Lashana Lynch and Stephen Graham. All are expected to walk the red carpet at the Royal Festival Hall on opening night.

Speaking ahead of the gala, festival director Tricia Tuttle called the choice of opening film “joyous,” adding that “it plays really well to everyone.”

The London Film Festival is in its 66th year, and prides itself for being more “audience facing” than other festivals across the globe.

“If you’re a public ticket buyer, you can walk the red carpet. You can’t do that at lots of film festivals. And that’s really very much part of our identity,” Tuttle said.

Celebrities expected to attend this year include actor/producer Jennifer Lawrence with “Causeway,” Timothee Chalamet with Luca Guadagnino’s cannibal romance “Bones and All,” and Cate Blanchett and Christoph Waltz for Guillermo del Toro’s stop motion animation “Pinocchio.”

The festival closes on Sunday Oct. 16 with the premiere of Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” sequel “Glass Onion,” starring Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe and Leslie Odom Jr.