Australian distributor Palace Films has acquired three new foreign titles to add to its 2003 schedule and says the year is shaping up to be its biggest yet with as many as 16 theatrical releases planned, including a raft of local films.

US black comedy Igby Goes Dow, starring Kieran Culkin, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum and Claire Danes, will be the first of the new titles released. Directed by Burr Steers, Culkin is in the lead role of 17-year-old Igby Slocumb, at war with the stifling world of old money privilege he was born into and with the members of his unattractive family.

Deals have now also been finalised on director Mike Leigh's Cannes competitor All Or Nothing, as well as the winner of last year's Sundance Grand Jury Prize, Personal Velocity.

Palace's support for local films last year was exemplary and will continue into this year, starting with director/writer Rolf de Heer's Alexandra's Project, which has just been named among Berlin competitors. It is being released in Australia on May 1.

The distributor this month took delivery of writer/director Tony McNamara's The Rage In Placid Lake, adapted from his own play and starring Ben Lee, Rose Byrne and Miranda Richardson, and veteran writer/director Richard Franklin's Visitors which sees Radha Mitchell on a solo round-the-world ocean voyage.

Also releasing this year will be Japanese Story, starring Toni Collette and made by the team who made Road To Nhill, and the 1950s Italian/Australian story Love's Brother, which stars Giovanni Ribisi and Adam Garcia and is the directorial debut of Shine writer Jan Sardi. Both films are in post-production.

Palace has just released US picture The Man From Elysian Fields, starring Andy Garcia and Mick Jagger, and the next two are director Richard Linklater's Tape and also from the US, Read My Lips.