RACHEL WEISZ, Jude Law and Sir Anthony Hopkins help open the 55th London Film Festival this evening at a gala Leicester Square event; all star in 360, a contemporary, around-the-world version of La Ronde, directed by Fernando Meirelles of City of God fame.

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“360 combines masterful visual story telling with a modern and moving narrative, helped by strong performances from a terrific ensemble cast,” said LFF Artistic Director Sandra Hebron, who steps down at the end of the festival after nine years on the job.

Weisz also stars in the LFF’s closing film, The Deep Blue Sea, directed by Terence Davies. Between those bookends, the festival hosts 298 other films from quirky independent shorts to Hollywood A-list vehicles.

Two of the latter – The Ides of March and The Descendants – feature George Clooney, an old festival friend and there’s W.E., Madonna’s take on the tribulations of royal wife Wallace Simpson, as well as a new Tess of the D’Urbervilles starring Freida Pinto.

But it is the lesser known gems for which the LFF is justly famous.

On that front this year, look out for The Kid with a Bike, the kid being a young boy abandoned by his dad, directed by the Dardenne brothers; Martha Marcy May Marlene, featuring a woman escaping a cult, directed by Sean Durkin; Let the Bullets Fly, set in gangster-land 1920s China, directed by Wen Jiang, and, fittingly, The Day He Arrives, about a bunch of film boffins, directed by Sang-soo Hong.

None of the above was the first festival film to sell out. That honour goes to Shame, a movie starring Michael Fassbender as a sex addict.

The London Film Festival runs from today, 12 October, until 27 October.