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King's Speech Joins Conviction as Film Fest Openers

British film about reluctant monarch's speech therapy, already getting plenty of Oscar buzz, will screen in San Rafael on opening night.

The 33rd Mill Valley Film Festival has lined up a one-two opening punch, announcing today that The King's Speech, a British film about a reluctant monarch's quest to overcome an embarrassing stammer, will join Conviction in a two-pronged opening night.

The King's Speech, directed by Tom Hooper, is about King George VI (played by Colin Firth), also known as Bertie. The king, the father of current reigning Queen Elizabeth II, was thrust onto the throne following his brother's abdication at a pivotal time in history, with Europe on the brink of war.

Bertie suffered a terribly embarrassing stammer and sought help from an eccentric, innovative Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Helena Bonham Carter plays Bertie's extraordinary wife Elizabeth, while Guy Pearce plays King Edward VIII.

The film had its world premiere at the at the Telluride Film Festival last week. After the screening, the Hollywood Reporter noted, "the prevailing wisdom was that the event had launched yet another serious Oscar contender in the British royalty drama The King's Speech," calling Firth and Rush "sure-thing nominees."

The King's Speech will be screened at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael at 7 p.m. on opening night of the festival. It will be followed by the opening night party at the Mill Valley Community Center. The film is set for a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on Nov. 26.

While The King's Speech screens in San Rafael on opening night, Conviction will be shown at the CinéArts@Sequoia on Throckmorton Ave. at 7 p.m. Bay Area native Sam Rockwell, who plays a man wrongfully convicted of murder who is freed after a trial in which he is represented by his sister, will appear at the screening.

The film is based on the true story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank), an unemployed, high-school dropout single mother who puts herself through law school to represent her brother Kenneth, who was convicted of murder in Ayer, Massachusetts, in 1980.

The Mill Valley Film Festival, presented by the California Film Institute, runs Oct. 7–17, at the Sequoia and the Rafael Film Center. See the festival's Web site for more details.

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