The Times BFI London Film Festival (15-30 October) begins today with the world premiere of Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon.

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Howard, cast-members Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Toby Jones, Matthew Macfadyen and subject of the film Sir David Frost were all expected at the premiere.

Other red carpet titles screening over the festival fortnight include Spike Lee's Miracle At St. Anna, new Bond movie Quantum Of Solace and Oliver Stone's George W. Bush movie, W.

Meanwhile, Spike Lee, Eva Green, Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Peter O'Toole and Rachel Weisz are all expected in town.

'Film companies are starting to see that London as a festival offers a very good platform - that London can have a reach beyond the UK and into Europe and internationally,' the festival's artistic director Sandra Hebron boasted of the event's increasing public profile.

There are 15 world premieres in all: 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, The Posters Came From The Walls, Vashti Bunyan and From Here To Before.

There are also 13 international premieres, including such titles as Hamlet 2 and American Teen.

The festival, which has anoverall budget of around £4.1 million, has been trying to ramp up its industry profile. The LFF industry screenings will showcase 42 titles available for the UK as well as seven on which world sales rights are available.

In association with Film London, the Festival is also hosting the second London Film Financing Market (20-21 Oct). Miramax President Daniel Battsek will be giving the key note speech at the event, which aims to connect financiers and producers.