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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Young British stars Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan hit the red carpet on Wednesday night for the European premiere of "Never Let Me Go," which kicks off this year's London film festival.
The annual event which runs until October 28 is showcasing nearly 200 feature films and over 100 shorts originating in 67 countries, and closes with Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle's "127 Hours."
Never Let Me Go is a movie based on a novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro, and tells the story of three young friends at boarding school who must face the terrible truth about what awaits them when they are older.
The film, directed by Mark Romanek, has already been released in the United States, where it made just $1.2 million dollars after around one month, a fraction of the reported production budget of $15 million.
It is scheduled to hit British theatres on January 21, 2011. The movie stars Oscar nominees Knightley and Mulligan, both 25, alongside Andrew Garfield, who was plucked from relative obscurity in July when he was chosen to play the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the 2012 reboot of the popular franchise.
Knightley said she enjoyed playing a morally ambiguous character.
"I thought the character was fascinating, a sort of study in jealousy and fear," the actress told reporters.
"I think she commits great harm and it was an interesting thing getting into her head. I didn't like her and it's a tricky thing playing people you don't like and finding ways to empathize with them."
Author Ishiguro said he had not wanted to create a tale about "the triumph of slaves over a cruel system.
"I was interested in trying to find something that paralleled our natural life span and how you couldn't really escape from the fact that you were mortal and that all of us will move from childhood to adulthood to old age."
The London film festival boasts 11 world premieres, although they are mainly small-budget productions, and the event is still some way behind the world's most prestigious festivals like Cannes, Toronto and Venice.
London also features several pictures which have won critical acclaim already, including ballet drama "Black Swan" starring Natalie Portman and "The King's Speech" with Colin Firth.
Writing and additional reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Steve Addison