British actor and long time Irish resident John Hurt will be the recipient of Cork Film Festival's inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. The festival will host a public interview with the actor and screen a retrospective selection of Hurt's film and television work, including Ridley Scott's recut Alien.

Now in its 48th year Ireland's senior festival kicks off on October 12 with the Irish premiere of Aisling Walsh's acclaimed Song For A Raggy Boy which was filmed just outside Cork city and which gets a wide release in Ireland from Abbey films on October 17. The festival closes on October 20 with The Mystics, a comedy starring veteran Irish actors Milo O'Shea and David Kelly as a pair of amiable fake psychics who get caught out in a most unexpected way.

These two new Irish films are joined by a third, Cowboys And Angels, the low budget debut feature of writer/director David Gleeson which receives its Irish premiere at the festival on October 17. This coming of age drama, set in the provincial city of Limerick, was acquired in Toronto by TLA Releasing for North American theatrical and home entertainment from sales agents Media Luna.

Highlights from the programme of international features include Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions from Canada, Jaime Rosales' The Hours Of The Day from Spain, Chen Kaige's Together from China, Dagur Kari's Noi The Albino from Iceland, Catherine Hardwicke's Thirteen from the US and a preview screening of Quentin Tarantino's samurai sword fest Kill Bill Vol 1. A strong contingent of new films from the UK includes Richard Curtis's Love Actually, Simon Pummel's Body Song, Emily Young's Kiss Of Life and Paul Morrison's Wondrous Oblivion.

Cork is a highly competitive festival for short films and has thirty short film programmes fifteen of which, a total of 116 films, are in line for four award categories: The Jameson Short Film Award for Best Irish Short, worth Euros 6,000 cash from Jameson and Euros 8,000 of facilities from Ardmore Studios; Best International Short Film worth Euros 4,000 cash and Euros 8,000 of audio post-production from Lime Street Sound; The Claire Lynch Award for best first short film by an Irish director worth Euros 1,000 in cash, Euros 5,000 of facilities from UCD Audio Visual Centre and 104,000 feet of 16mm film stock from Kodak; and the best 'Made in Cork' Short Film which has a Euros 1,000 cash award.

The other fifteen short programmes are spread across country, genre, and theme and include a selection of classic Chaplin shorts with live piano accompaniment, programmed to mark a screening of Richard Schickel's documentary portrait of the icon of early cinema, Charlie: The Life And Art of Charles Chaplin. This is the centrepiece of Cork's documentary panorama, a programme of over thirty films from Ireland and abroad.

The nine-day programme is rounded out with a series of seminars and workshops covering different issues and perspectives and presented by Isaac Julien, Mark Nash and Peter Sainsbury.