The 11th Athens International Film Festival-Opening Nightskicks off today (Sept 15) with the gala presentation of Costa Gavras' TheAxe (Le Couperet).

Gavras will be on hand tointroduce the film, to offer a master class and to receive a Golden Athena, thefestival's trophy, for his career.

He will be joined during the festival by the likes of Korean directorKim Ki- Duk, Daniel Day Lewis and English director Sally Potter who are alsoset to receive similar career awards.

Kim Ki-Duk will introduce a retrospective of his films while Daniel DayLewis will present The Ballad of Jack and Rose, directed by his wifeRebecca Miller.

Potter and Theo Angelopoulos will offer master classes and steer theeleven-member official jury made up of 18-25 year olds who will vote on theGolden Award for the best film in the 16-title strong competition section.

These include Locarno winner Rodrigo Garcia's Nine Lives, LodgeKerrigan's Keane and Duncan Tucker's Transamerica, DianeBertrand's L'Annulaire, Russian director Aleksey Fedorchenko's FirstOn The Moon, Japanese director Jun Ichikawa's Tony Takitani, Koreandirector Ryoo Seung-Wan's Crying First, Israeli director Eran Riklis' TheSyrian Bride and Portuguese Joao Pedro Rodrigues' Odette.

The festival's traditional side sections include AmericanIndependents, Documentaries and Musicand Film as well as Greeks of the Diaspora and Special Screenings.

New this year is the beefed up presence of recent Greek productions: noless than seven films are premiered in the festival led by Nikos Gramatikos'shighly anticipated Wakeful Nightand Renos Charalambidis' The Heart Of The Beast.