The Times BFI London FilmFestival opened Wednesday night with the European premiere of Kevin Macdonald'sThe Last King OfScotland.

Guests at the Odeon Leicester Square included the film's stars Forest Whitaker, JamesMcAvoy, Kerry Washington and Gillian Anderson along with director Macdonald, writer Peter Morgan and the novel's author Giles Foden.Other attendees for the opening of the the 50th anniversary ofLondon's film festival included BFI chair Anthony Minghella, whose new film Breaking And Entering is also playingduring LFF.

During his opening speech, Minghella took the opportunity to remind the audience that the festival would need increased funding in the future to keep up with the star power of other international festivals. Also, despite the revamped National Film Theatre being unveiled currently, Minghella suprised some in the audience with his call for London to create a new world-class cinematheque by the Olympic year of 2012.

The Last King Of Scotland is based on Giles Fodenns novel about therelationship between Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (Whitaker) and his Scottishdoctor (McAvoy). The feature was shot in the UK and Uganda.

Festival artistic director Sandra Hebron called her opening selection "such a fine film from a talented young British film-maker."

The film is presentationfrom Fox Searchlight, DNA Films and Film4 in association with the UK FilmCouncil and Scottish Screen of a Cowboy Films/Slate Films production.

A post-screening openingparty was held in a marquee in London's Berkeley Square.

The London Film Festivalruns through Nov 2, when the closing night gala will be Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu'sBabel. The programme includes 181 features and 131 shorts.Nearly 400 guests are expected, including Richard Linklater, Tim Burton, DustinHoffman, Paul Verhoeven, Christine Vachon, Lukas Moodysson, Anthony Minghella,Kenneth Anger, Peter O'Toole, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Todd Field.