Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Festival finale feels 'righteous'

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks at the gala screening of Saving Mr Banks, the closing film of the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square, London.

Hollywood star Tom Hanks has said closing the 57th BFI London Film Festival with Saving Mr Banks feels "righteous".

The two-time Oscar-winning actor, who plays Walt Disney in John Lee Hancock's drama about the 20-year battle to bring PL Travers' children's book Mary Poppins to screen, kept the cold at bay at the film's premiere with a cup of tea, accompanied by a "spoonful of sugar" on the red carpet.

"It feels like it's the righteous thing to do," said the 57-year-old.

Hanks, who opened this year's festival on October 9 with Paul Greengrass' tense thriller Captain Phillips, joked he was responsible for the event's success.

"I believe it's been the most successful in the history of the film festival and I've been trying to figure out why. It must have something to do with opening and closing films," he quipped.

The gala screening, which was simultaneously screened via a live satellite link to 20 towns and cities across the UK and Ireland, was a family affair for British actress Emma Thompson, who was accompanied by husband Greg Wise and daughter Gaia.

Dressed in an outfit by Maria Grachvogel, the 54-year-old, who portrays English author PL Travers, added: "The fact that it's starting its life in the world here makes me feel very moved actually, and I'm not prone to that kind of sentimentality."

Colin Farrell and Ruth Wilson, who play Travers' parents, also stepped out for the premiere.

"It's unreal. It's my first time at the festival and I've got two films that I'm incredibly proud of. This is a very British film with an iconic British figure so it's exciting," Wilson said.

Farrell added: "It's really lovely to be here. Emma's work in this is astonishing."

Director Hancock, who previously directed The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock, said: "In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined being able to premiere this film in London's Leicester Square. It's unbelievable and magical."

Saving Mr Banks tells the untold story of the long-running rivalry between Disney and Travers, with the author reluctant to hand over her beloved book and its characters over to Hollywood.

The festival's artistic director Clare Stewart said it was the perfect film to end the festival, which counts American Express as its partner, on.

"Saving Mr Banks is a magical film about movie-making, this cultural and creative fruition of two different forces. To me, it embodies all of the magic of movie-making and that is precisely the right quality for our closing night film," she said.

Saving Mr Banks will be released on November 29.

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