Boasting six world premieres and 40 UK premieres, theEdinburgh International Film Festival has launched a 2004 programme aiming todefend its position as the premiere UK Festival for British cinema.

Facingcompetition from a revitalised London Film Festival and the recent Londonscreenings, Edinburgh will host premieres of Shane Meadows gritty ganglandthriller Dead Man's Shoes, Antonia Bird's September 11th drama HamburgCell, Damien O'Donnell's Inside I'm Dancing, Terry Loane's MickyboAnd Me set in 1970s Ireland, Pawel Pawlikowski's My Summer Of Love,Richard Jobson's martial arts movie The Purifiers and Kenny Glenaan's Yasminin which a British Muslim woman finds her husband falsely imprisoned as aterrorist suspect.

TheFestival will open with The Motorcycle Diaries and close with the UKpremiere of Wong Kar-Wai's 2046. Other international premieres include Calvaire,mockumentary Incident At Loch Ness, Saved!, Trauma, Untold Scandaland The Hillside Strangler.

Special events include a focus on the work of Frenchdirector Damien Odoul and masterclass sessions with Ken Loach, Paul Laverty,Richard Eyre, Walter Salles and Shane Meadows.

Actor Malcolm McDowell will also attend as part of aspecial commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the death of LindsayAnderson, the director of If, O Lucky Man and This Sporting Life.

TheFestival's retrospective this year is devoted to the late Italian directorValerio Zurlini whose films include Girl With A Suitcase(1960) withClaudia Cardinale, Family Diary(1962) with Marcello Mastroianni and TheProfessor(1972) with Alain Delon. The Festival runs from August 18-29.