More than half of the 18 films confirmed so far for the Berlinale's Competition next month (5-15 February) are world premieres.

Moreover, the 2004 edition promises to feature a remarkable number of politically committed films, according to the festival's selectors.

Bjorn Runge's Daybreak, Cedric Kahn's Red Lights, Patrice Leconte's Intimate Strangers, Romuald Karmakar's Nightsongs, Richard Linklater's Before Sunset and Matteo Garrone's Primo Amore are among the twelve world premieres selected so far. (See list below)

Political cinema will be represented by the world premieres of new films by veteran UK directors Ken Loach (Ae Fond Kiss) and John Boorman (Country Of My Skull) as well as by the first part of Theo Angelopoulos' planned trilogy on Greek history, Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow, French director Eric Rohmer's political thriller Triple Agent, and Hans Petter Moland's US-Norwegian co-production Beautiful Country.

In addition, the Competition will include the international premiere of Patty Jenkins' award-winning feature debut Monster, starring Charlize Theron, and an "out of competition" screening of Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give.

In all, Berlin's main competition will include a total of 26 films, 22 of which will compete for the Golden and Silver Bears. The entire Berlinale programme will be available on January 26.

Berlin Competition films:

Country Of My Skull
, dir John Boorman
A black US journalist encounters a white South African journalist at the public hearings of South Africa's Truth And Reconciliation Commission. Their joint experience of these deeply distressing accounts draw them closer together. Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche star. World premiere.

Triple Agent, dir Eric Rohmer
A political thriller, Triple Agent is set against historical events in 1936, when the Spanish Civil War is troubling Europe. Fiodor, a young Russian spy, takes refuge with his Greek wife in Paris. World premiere.

Trilogy 1: The Weeping Meadow, dir Theo Angelopoulos
Through the story of the relationship between a man and a woman over decades, Angelopoulos traces the history of Greece in the 20th century. Part one of this trilogy ends with the Greek civil war after World War II. World premiere.

Ae Fond Kiss, dir Ken Loach
Recounts the love story between a Catholic woman and a Pakistani immigrant in Glasgow. Eva Birthistle and Atta Yaqub co-star in the film. World premiere.

Daybreak, dir Bjorn Runge
A single evening changes the lives of four friends. With an unusual sense for grotesque details, three episodes unfold about delusions, lies and other human weaknesses Pernilla August and Jakob Eklund star. World premiere.

Intimate Strangers (Confidences Trop Intimes), dir Patrice Leconte
A comedy about psychologists. A young woman wants to overcome her marital problems by consulting a therapist but accidentally confides to a tax consultant. Fabrice Lucchini, Sandrine Bonnaire and Anne Brochet star. World premiere.

Red Lights (Feux Rouges), dir Cedric Kahn
A film version of Georges Simenon's 1953 novel of the same name, Kahn has set this tale of a married couple in the midst of a crisis in present-day France. World premiere.

Primo Amore, dir Matteo Garrone
The story of a man who is victim to his own instincts and forces his partner into a destructive relationship. Vitaliano Trevisan and Michaela Cescon star. World premiere.

Beautiful Country, dir Hans Petter Moland
The odyssey of a young Vietnamese who sets out to find his American father and arrives in the US as an illegal immigrant. Based on a screenplay by Terrence Malick. Damien Nguyen, Nick Nolte, Tim Roth and Bai Ling star. World premiere.

Monster, dir Patty Jenkins
Patty Jenkins' directing debut is based on the true story of a prostitute, Aileen Wuornos, who was executed in 2002 for murdering seven men. It stars Charlize Theron, who is widely tipped for an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Wournos.

Before Sunset, Richard Linklater
Linklater reunites his protagonists from Before Sunrise. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet again in Paris, nearly ten years after their romantic encounter in Vienna. World premiere.

Nightsongs, (Die Nacht singt ihre Lieder) dir Romuald Karmakar.
An atmospheric love tragedy about a young couple in Berlin's popular Mitte district.. Frank Giering, Anne Ratte-Polle, Manfred Zapatka and Marthe Keller star.

Your Next Life, (La vida que te espera) dir Manuel Gutierrez Aragon.
A a tragic love and family saga set in a remote rural area of Northern Spain, it features Juan Diego, Marta Etura, Luis Tosar and Celso Bugallo.

Witnesses, dir Vinko Bresan.
Croatia's entry to the foreign language Oscars, Witnesses is set against the war in Yugoslavia and portrays the fatal psychological impacts of war and violence in three parallel tales.

In Your Hands, dir Annette K. Olesen
A sensitive study about an encounter between a young woman pastor, who works in a women's prison, and a prisoner, who is trying to cope with her guilt.

The Missing, Dir Ron Howard
The story of a young woman who runs a small farm in New Mexico around 1885. After her daughter is kidnapped, she is forced to team up with her detested father to pursue the culprits. Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett star.

Out of Competition
Cold Mountain
, dir Anthony Minghella (opening film)
Something's Gotta Give, dir Nancy Meyers