TheCairo International Film Festival entered its 29th year this week witha focus on war dramas like Danielle Arbid's In the Battlefields and Mohamed Amin's Egyptian competition entry The Night Baghdad Fell. The festival runs from November 29 - December 9.

Thefestival also features a special tribute to Chinese cinema, opening with Zhang Yimou's House ofFlying Daggers. China is the guest of honour, and around 25 films from the last 20 years will beshown throughout the festival.

MorganFreeman is expected as a guest along with French actress Leslie Caron, Germandirector Percy Adlon (Baghdad Cafe) and Russian director Karen Shakhnazarov(The Day of the Full Moon).

Highlightsinclude a Lebanese cinema section, including Arbid's2004 autobiographical film showing the country's civil war through the eyes ofa 12-year-old child.

Theevent comes at a time of increasing optimism on the Egyptian cinema scene. Oncethe paragon of quality filmmaking in the Middle East, Egyptian cinema entereda slump in the last decade, as local audiences dwindled and leading directorscatered to cash-rich but conservative audiences in the Gulf.

Withfilm-makers plugging satellite channels to fund new features, Artistic DirectorYoussef Cherif Rizkallah said Egyptian producers are reaching for moresophisticated fare than the vapid comedies that have dominated in recent years.

International Competition

Magic Eye, (Syri Magjik ) Albania, 2005, Kujtim Cashku

A Bright Moon, China, 2005, Lu Qi

The Night Baghdad Fell, Egypt, 2005,Mohamed Amin

Mother ofMine, (Äideistä parhain) Finland, 2005, Klaus Härö

TheRussian Dolls, (Les poupees Russes)France,2005, Cedric Klapisch

Seeds ofDoubt, (Folgeschäden ) Germany, 2005, Samir Nasr

Shell, (Rakushk) /Greece, 2004, Fotini Siskopoulou

Who theHell's Bonnie and Clyde'(A miskolci boni es klájd ) Hungary, 2004, Krisztina Deák

In theName of God, (Daivanamathil) India, 2005, Jayaraj

Dreams, (Ahlam )UAE, 2005, Mohamed Al-Daradji

So Close,So Far, (Kheili dour, kheili nazdik) Iran, 2005, Reza Mir-Karimi

Door ofthe Seven Stars, (La portadelle sette stele) Italy, 2004, Pasquale Pozzessere

Adan, Japan, 2004, Sho Igarashi

The Timeto Pick Up the Stones, Russia, 2005, Karelin Alexei

A New Dayin Old Sanaa, (Yom Jadeedfi Sana'a Qadeem ) Yemen, 2005, Bader Ben Hirsi