Mike Leigh's Vera Drake has been named as the opening night film for The Times bfi 48th London Film Festival on October 20.

David O. Russell's I Heart Huckabees will close the festival on November 4.

The Opening Night Gala will be the UK premiere ofLeigh's Vera Drake, which starsImelda Staunton and Phil Davis and will be released in the UK by MomentumPictures early in the New Year. Vera Drake has its world premiere next month at the Venice film festival.

Staunton plays a housekeeper who helps women inducemiscarriages of unwanted pregnancies in 1950s London. She finds her beliefs andpractices clash with the mores of the time - a conflict which leads to tragedyfor her family.

I Heart Huckabees,which is billed as an existential comedy, will make its international premiereas the closing night gala in London. The film stars Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law,Mark Wahlberg, Naomi Watts, Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman and will be releasedin the UK by Twentieth Century Fox.

London's artistic director, Sandra Hebron, said:"I'm delighted at the quality of both our Opening and Closing Nightfilms, and with how they chime with the rest of the Festival'sprogramme. On the surface Vera Drakeand I Heart Huckabeescouldn't be less alike, but what Mike Leigh and David O. Russell share,apart from their complete understanding of the art and craft of film-making, ishumanism, clarity of vision and a desire to make films which make us thinkabout the way we live."