Despite a six-month delay and constant doubts about the event's value, the Bangkok International Film Festival rolled out the red carpet last night for an opening gala, well-attended by local and international filmmakers, along with Thai politicians and the media.

The opening event was elegant and tasteful, while avoiding the overwhelming glamour of previous editions. To highlight the event's main role as a film festival, rather than a mere vehicle for organisers Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to promote tourism, the invited foreign filmmakers all have at least one film playing in the festival.

To name a few - Andrew Vajna, producer of opening film Children Of Glory; British actress Kate Dickie of Red Road; Taiwanese actor Jay Shih of international competition title Spider Lilies; Israeli director Amos Gitai (Freezone); the cast of Vietnam's The Rebel, led by main actor Johnny Nguyen and model-turned-actress Veronica Ngo Thanh Van - all made an appearance.

On the Thai front, director Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol along with his Naresuan cast captured huge media attention, as did the cast of Ploy represented by Ananda Everingham and Apinya Sakuljaroensuk (although director Pen-ek Ratanaruang was absent).

The stars of closing film Muay Thai Chaiya - Akara 'Golf' Amarttayakul and newcomer Prawit 'Tae' Kittichanthira - stole the limelight. Today, the full cast will further show off their Muay Thai Chaiya-style martial arts skills at a press conference.

The gala reception was held at the spacious foyer of SF Cinema City's new 15-screen flagship multiplex, SF World Cinema, at Central World shopping complex. The cinema will play all 123 festival films in six halls over nine days. This year is the first time that SF has provided the venue for the festival.