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Rio Film Festival will feature 300 films and docus

Rio International Film Festival 2006 will run September 21 - October 5

It is not by chance that the city which has inspired filmmakers across the world hosts the world's fifth largest film festival.

Last year, a record 230,000 tickets were sold in the two week period of the festival, and more than 300 filmmakers and industry delegates turned up to celebrate the art and craft of cinema.

This year's Rio Int'l Film Festival (Festival do Rio), which kicks off this Thursday, September 21 and continues throughout this most cinematic of cities until October 5, aims once more to showcase the best of new international cinema as well as to provide a world platform for the surge of new work emerging from the Latin continent's film and documentary makers.

In all, the festival will play host to more than 300 features and documentaries from 60 countries with screenings spread over 35 venues throughout the city, made up of 25 cinemas, 8 specially constructed outdoor tents as well as on the famous Copacabana beach.

World and Latin premieres, screenings of classical movies, special screenings, retrospectives, together with seminars, debates and visits by international directors and actors add up to the vibrant mix that is Festival do Rio.

Highlights of Festival do Rio 2006 include Latin premieres of such recent world festival winners and crowd pleasers as Cannes prize winners Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Pedro Almodovar's Volver, Alejandro Ganzalez Inarritu's Babel, Bruno Dumont's Flanders, and Rolf de Heer's twice-honoured Un Certain Regard entry Ten Canoes. From the honours list at Berlin will come the Silver Bear and FIPRESCI winner, Hans-Christian Schmid's Requiem, and hot from Venice, Silver Lion winners, Stephen Frear's The Queen and Emanuele Crialese's Nuovomondo (Golden Door). These are among 90 films receiving their Latin premieres in the festival's World Panorama section.

Notable festival guests include Matt Dillon, in for Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, for which the actor provides the narration, Charlotte Rampling, heading a festival tribute to legendary director Luchino Visconti, actresses Irene Jacob and Carmen Maura, actors Rodrigo de La Serna and Daniel Hendler, along with directors Darren Aronosky and Bruno Dumont. And a special opening weekend gala screening of Sundance audience favourite Little Miss Sunshine will bring the festival's youngest guest, ten year-old actress Abigail Breslin.

"The Int'l Rio Film Festival is a mosaic of world cinema, bringing together all levels of production and achievement - top name directors screening alongside independents and newcomers. Our aim is to make the city alive with anticipation and to deliver the most comprehensive programme of any world festival," says festival director Ilda Santiago.

The Festival's parallel seminars and market events, which have grown significantly in stature and attendance over the past two years already seeing over 200 world industry players sign on with reps due in Rio from the likes of Pandora (Germany), CJ Entertainment (Korea), Alfa (Argentina), Hanway, Gaga (Japan), Cinemark (Mexico), Fox Searchlight, Miramax, Weinsten Co., Sony, Paramount, Fox, and Focus, Warners, Columbia, and Disney present either as panelists or observers.

First to kick off the market activity, Rioscreenings runs September 24th to October 4th and is dedicated to the world's newest productions. The event will include an infrastructure of several video and DVD booths available to producers, distributors, and broadcasters, and provides an excellent opportunity to showcase and trade audiovisual products from Brazil and abroad. Rioseminars begin a day later, September 25th through to October 3rd and focuses on panel discussions on new technologies and techniques. Admissions and further information: www.festivaldorio.com.br .

New to the festival this year will be riomarket, a new space dedicated to the audiovisual industry. With the purpose of simplifying the system of production, distribution, and exhibition of Brazilian films and shows. Riomarket will create a forum where producers can benefit from seminars and panels, participate in pitching their projects, and meet with some of the most important buyers representing national and international markets.

The entire event, including pitching sessions and business meetings, will occur in a pavillion built exclusively for the Rio Film Festival on Copacabana beach.

Central to the festival's commitment to provide an international doorway for Latin filmmakers, the Première Brazil and Première Latin America sections underpin the festival programme, with more than 60 features, documentaries and shorts being premiered on a daily basis throughout the fortnight. Highlights include Tata Amaral's much anticipated third feature Antonia, which follows her previous international break-through films Atraves de Janela and Um Ceu de Estrelas. The film has already caused waves at Toronto. Also eagerly awaited is Cao Hamburger's O Ano em que meus pais seraim de Ferais (The Year My Parents Went on Vacation) a second film from the director who gained much acclaim for his recent HBO TV series Filhos de Carnaval. Director Karim Ainouz who launched his first film Madame Sata at Cannes and Rio, returns from Venice where he featured in the Horizons section to show his new work, A Ceu de Suely (Suely In The Sky). Also creating excitement ahead of their screenings are Pixote writer Jorge Duran's Proibido Proibir (Forbidden to Forbid), and Flavio Ramos Tambellini's O Passageiro - Segredos de Adulto (The Passenger - Adult Secrets). Making his second directorial outing, Tambellini is best known as one of the locale's most successful producers, with a string of hits including Cazuza, Carandiru, Eu Tu Eles, and O Homen do Ano.

The only competitive section of the festival, Première Brazil will see seven jury prizes presented in addition to two audience awards. The jury will be announced at the start of the festival.

Special events this year include Focus Canada, a selection of fifteen films reflecting the cultural and ethnical diversity of the national as seen through its filmmakers: Visconti, a retrospective tribute to Italy's founder of neo-realism filmmaking 30 years after his last film, and New Images of Iran (Novas Imagens do Ira), eleven films which together perhaps say more about the country and its people than we see in the news. Among the treats, Offside, an unexpected comedy set among female football fans normally excluded from sports events.

The festival rounds out with its usual strands of the expected and unexpected:
Expectations 2006 addresses new and experimental work; Dox, dedicated to national and international documentaries; Frontiers, films breaking cultural and political barriers, Midnight Movies, those worth staying up late for, including Korea's smash hit The Host and Daft Punk's decidedly esoteric Electroma;. Mundo Gay highlights the world as queer as it can be, with stand-out films in the form of Bubot Niyar's Paper Dolls, in which the Israeli film-maker documents the lives of Filipino transvestites working as carers to elderly Jewish men in his home country, and Robert I Douglas's Scandinavian comedy Eleven Men Out in which a top player in Iceland's football team causes a stir when he admits to his team he is gay.

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