During the BFI London Film Festival, which continues until this Sunday, you’ll often see Leicester Square crowded with film fans desperate for a glimpse of their favourite stars. But what’s it like to step out from the crowd, and into the enchanted circle of the lucky few invited to a big premiere? On Monday night, I found out.
The film was the Mayfair Hotel Gala Premiere of Labor Day, the star one of Britain’s biggest: Kate Winslet, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2009 and has been nominated for five more. Our evening began at a champagne reception in the eighth-floor Penthouse of the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel on Leicester Square, with a magnificent view across to the London Eye. Then it was time to strut down the red carpet, an event now so important it has its own Twitter handle, #WalkOfFame.
Before the film played, the director, Jason Reitman, and Kate herself, heavily pregnant but radiant in red, came on stage to give small speeches… and then we were lost, as ever, in the magic of cinema. How wonderful to see a film early, when you have no preconceived notions of how good it is or even what the story will be. I don’t want to spoil your own eventual surprise, so suffice it to say that this take of an escaped convict who invites himself into the lives of a lonely single mother and her young son is both tense and moving.
After that, more champagne is of course needed! Together with a select few film-goers I went to the Mayfair Hotel, which is favoured by stars from the film and fashion worlds. At their after-party I chatted to a composer, a director, and even an executive editor of The Economist, making sure to grab the delicious mini-burgers and mini fish-and-chip canapés whenever they passed.
It’s a little taste of Hollywood in London.