LONDON - Biographical films are the toast of the 58th London Film Festival, which opens on Wednesday with “The Imitation Game”, the tale of the British mathematician Alan Turing who broke Nazi code but was persecuted for being gay.

The role is played by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who made his name as Sherlock Holmes in a popular television series and as a relatively benign plantation owner in the Oscar-0winning 2013 film “12 Years a Slave”.

Turing was a computer scientist ahead of his time and the film coincides with the 60th anniversary of his death.

He was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 when it was a crime in Britain, despite the fact that he had played a crucial role in deciphering German codes that experts say accelerated the fall of Adolf Hitler.

Forced to undergo chemical castration, Turing killed himself at the age of 41. He was officially pardoned only last year by Queen Elizabeth II, six decades after his tragic death.

Wednesday marks the European premiere of the film of his life, which also stars British actress Keira Knightley and won the top people’s choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

A newcomer to cinema, US star comedian and presenter of The Daily Show Jon Stewart, will also be in London to present his first film.

“Rosewater”, which is also biographical, tells the true story of the detention of the Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, played by Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal.

- Inspiring life stories -

The later years of one of Britain’s most celebrated artists are the subject of “Mr. Turner”, directed by Mike Leigh and starring Timothy Spall, who won best actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance.

Bennet Miller’s “Foxcatcher” is also based on a true 1980s story of a rich billionaire played by Steve Carell who takes two wrestler brothers under his wing (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo).

“Wild”, by Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee tells the story of Cheryl Strayed, who walked 1,700 kilometres (1,056 miles) through the US wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail, to overcome the death of her mother, a difficult divorce and a history of drug addiction.

Strayed is played by Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon in the epic film, adapted from a bestselling book.