The first Copenhagen International Film Festival (Aug 13-20) has had a turbulent few weeks in the lead up to its launch on Wednesday night.

Festival programmer Michael Soeby has resigned and will not be returning next year, despite lining up a decent first programme with a strong focus on European film.

On Monday, the festival announced that Norwegian actress-turned filmmaker Liv Ullmann would receive a lifetime achievement award.

But at the same time Danish filmmaker Bille August had to resign his jury seat at the festival, and was replaced by veteran Danish filmmaker Ole Roos.

August has to travel to Los Angeles to meet a Hollywood star who is set to play the lead in his next English-language film. Neither the name of the actor/actress or the project is known, but an apologetic August denied that it has anything to do with his now abandoned thriller Without Apparent Motive, which failed to get the green light despite securing Richard Gere and Julianne Moore. The director said that the meeting was essential in order to secure his new film.

The five man Copenhagen jury presided over by Theo Angelopoulos now consists of Sweden's Jan Troell, German writer-director Jutta Bruckner, Belgian actress-turned filmmaker Marion Hansel and Roos.

The festival ran into financial trouble earlier this summer when it failed to attract sufficient sponsors to cover its US$1.3m (DKR8.5m) budget.

The Danish Film Institute stepped in with an emergency package of US$153,000 as well as a guarantee for another US$76,000, but the budget was still cut by some US$122,000.

The majority of the festival's funding comes from government backers such as the Ministry of Culture, the city of Copenhagen and the Danish Film Institute.

Liv Ullmann will receive her award Wednesday night at the opening gala of the festival, where Jannik Johansen's highly anticipated crime-comedy Stealing Rembrandt will have it premiere.

At the opening ceremony tonight in Copenhagen, two Honorary Awards will be given to jury president Theo Angelopoulos and Lars von Trier, who will not be able to attend.

The list of international guests attending includes Samantha Morton (Morvern Callar), Aidan Quinn (Song For A Raggy Boy) and Fillipo Nigro (Facing Windows) as well as filmmakers Bent Hamer (Kitchen Stories), Siddiq Barmak (Osama) and David Trueba (Soldiers Of Salamina). Christoffer Boe's Cannes Camera D'Or winner, Reconstruction, wraps the festival on Aug20.