Films from South Korea, Finland, Israel, Germany and Japan are among the first seven titles confirmed by the Berlinale Kinderfilmfest's new director Thomas Hailer for a programme which, in his words, "promises to be both diversified and extraordinary."

Two films have been invited from Finland: Arto Koskinen's The Handcuff King (Kahlekuningas) about a friendship between two boys during the 1970s which defies all barriers; and Klaus Haro's debut feature Elina (Elina - Som Jag Inte Fanns), while South Korea will be represented by Joo Kyung.Jung's The Little Monk (Dong Sung) which portrays how a nine.year-old Buddhist monk seeks warmth and security in the rigid routine of monastery life.

Meanwhile German director Joerg Gruenler's The Tenth Summer (Das Zehnte Sommer) will receive its world premiere at the Kinderfilmfest. Produced by Ziegler Film Koeln and handled internationally by Media Luna Entertainment, this family film focuses on the nine-year-old Kalli who, in the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small town in the Fifties, burdens himself with more secrets than a child can possibly bear.

Another nine-year-old is at the centre of Japanese director Yuji Nakae's humorous depiction of a chaotic family in Hotel Hibiscus, while the Canadian film Saint Monica by Terrance Odette follows a girl's desire to become an angel.

Also confirmed is young Israeli director Omri Levy's Miss Entebbe, an examination of the ever-escalating conflict between Israelis and Palestinians set against the Entebbe hijacking in 1976.

Commenting on the 200-odd full-length features and shorts screened for inclusion in the Kinderfilmfest programme, Hailer observed that "it is striking how films from all round the globe are focusing ever more intently on children's real lives. The trend for fantastic stories is unbroken, but they are increasingly related to true-to-life situations. In a time of great upheaval and general insecurity, some questions seem to be more urgent than others: Where do I belong' And what can I still believe in'"

The film selection for the 26th Kinderfilmfest's programme is being decided by a committee which, apart from Hailer, includes assistant director Maryanne Redpath, actress Beate Jensen and script consultant Beate Voelcker.