After world premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises will serve as the opening-night gala at the London Film Festival on Oct 17.

The Canada-UK co-production for Kudos and Serendipity Point stars Viggo Mortenson as a London-based Russian mobster who crosses paths with an innocent midwife, played by Naomi Watts.

LFF artistic director Sandra Hebron said: 'It's hugely exciting that a director who has consistently thrilled and challenged us throughout his career has made a film in our city. This gripping, powerfully directed and acted story of lives colliding in contemporary London is the perfect opener for our Festival.'

Focus Features will release Eastern Promises in the US, while Pathe plans a UK launch Oct 26. Alliance Atlantis will distribute in Canada.

London-based Paul Webster is producing for Kudos with Toronto-based Robert Lantos of Serendipity Point. Tracey Seaward is co-producing and Kudos' Stephen Garrett, BBC Films' David Thompson and Scion Films' Jeff Abberley and Julia Blackman are executive producing. Kahli Small oversaw the production for Focus.

The cast also includes Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Sinead Cusack, Donald Sumpter and Jerzy Skolimowski. Steven Knight wrote the script.

The 51st London Film Festival will run Oct 17-Nov 1 and the full programme will be announced Sept 13.

Cronenberg added: 'I'm thrilled to be returning to the scene of the crime. Eastern Promises is the first film I've ever shot entirely away from my home in Canada, and it makes perfect sense that it is set in London, home of so many of my most potent film influences. I can't wait to be there!'