With 14 world premieres and screenings for the new Bond, Oliver Stone's W and opening film Frost/Nixon, artistic director Sandra Hebron says The Times/BFI London Film Festival has become an international launch pad for major films.

'Film-makers and film companies are starting to see that London as a festival offers a very good platform - that it can have a reach beyond the UK and into Europe and internationally,' she stated.

Hebron's remarks come at a time when several leading figures in the UK film industry, among them Stewart Till, chairman of the UK Film Council, have been calling for the LFF, to become a 'bigger, louder festival.'

'I think that the festival is already quite glitzy. One of the things we're always interested in is spreading the impact of the festival and reaching wider audiences,' Hebron told ScreenDaily.

The LFF currently runs on a budget of around £4.1m. Hebron argues that a major hike in funding will be needed if the festival is to compete on even terms with other major festivals.

'There are a lot of things held together with elastic bands and sticky tape. We very definitely do not have the amount of money that we would really need,' Hebron stated.

She wouldn't be drawn on what precise budget the festival is seeking but said: 'The very least we would need, I think, would be in the region of £6m or £7m.'

The UK Film Council's new Festival Fund has not invested extra funds in this year's event. Hebron and her team are due to make a submission for new funding to the UKFC later this month. If their plans are approved, they are likely to secure extra backing for the 2009 festival.

Hebron emphasised that her main priority as artistic director was 'our relationship with the BFI and what audiences want. It is not just the Film Council - audiences like glamour and stars. We all find them quite exciting.'

The LFF artistic director pointed out that the LFF's red-carpet profile has been steadily increasing over recent editions. 'As long as they (stars) are not destabilising the festival and taking the emphasis wholly in that direction, I don't have any problem with seeing that develop in a way that it has been naturally evolving over the last few years anyway.'

This year's festival, the 52nd, runs October 15-30. There are 189 features screening as well as 108 shorts. The festival has 14 world premieres, 20 European and 119 UK premieres. Among the visitors expected in town during the festival fortnight are Eva Green, Gwyneth Paltrow, Omar Sharif, Penelope Cruz and Steven Soderbergh.

The 14 confirmed world premieres are: 1234, Awaydays, Beirut Open City, Bronson, Franklyn, Frost/Nixon, I Am Alive, I Know You Know, The Last Thakur, New Town Killers, Quick Gun Murugan, Shifty, Telstar and Vashti Bunyan: From Here To Before.