Steve McQueen's World War II drama 'Blitz' will open the 2024 BFI London Film Festival.

The 54-year-old filmmaker has written and directed the new picture that features Saoirse Ronan, Harris Dickinson and newcomer Elliott Heffernan.

Stephen Graham and musician Paul Weller – making his acting debut – are also attached to star.

The film follows the epic journey of George (Heffernan), a nine-year-old boy in World War II London whose mother Rita (Ronan) sends him to the safety of the English countryside.

A synopsis reads: "George, defiant and determined to return home to Rita and his grandfather (Weller) in East London, ensues on an adventure, only to find himself in immense peril, while a distraught Rita searches for her missing son."

It is the first solo screenwriting credit for the '12 Years a Slave' director.

The premiere will be held on October 9 at the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall and is to be screened as a world premiere.

McQueen said: "'Blitz' is a movie about Londoners. It honours the spirit of what and how Londoners endured during the blitz, but also explores the true representation of people in London, while at its core is the story of a working-class family desperate to be reunited during times of war.

"I could not be more thrilled that the BFI London Film Festival has invited us to open this year's festival, and to celebrate the world premiere of 'Blitz' in my hometown."

Kristy Matheson, BFI London Film Festival Director, said: "'Blitz' is a film of incredible scale. Steve McQueen infuses the film with nuance at every turn; the depth of character and texture of the city are all peerless and make this subject feel completely new.

"It's an astounding production that will leave audiences in awe of the director, his cast, and creative collaborators. We are honoured to share this film with audiences in London and across the UK and can think of no better way to open the 2024 BFI London Film Festival."