The organisers of Portugal's premiere film festival, Fantasporto, have unveiled plans to launch a new annual event, the International Film Festival of Gaia, with a first edition scheduled for June 14-22, 2002.

Set in the neighbouring city of Oporto, the Gaia festival will be non genre-specific, thus setting it apart from the fantastic and sci-fi oriented Fantasporto. The new event is intended as a "launching pad in Portugal for films from around the world," according to Mario Dorminsky, director of Fantasporto and artistic director of Gaia.

With an initial budget of Euros 1.5m, Gaia will include an official competition section (with non-monetary awards in traditional categories), a Panorama & Premiere sidebar of international films, a retrospective section (organisers hope to dedicate it this year to films from 20th Century Fox), and a Portuguese Cinema Focus.

Gaia is funded by private sponsor Gaianima, whose head Nelson Cardoso will act as director of the festival, and the city's newly elected mayor, who chose to unveil the event during the 22nd annual Fantasporto festival (Feb 22-Mar 4) and just weeks before the country's hotly contested national elections March 17.

Also over the weekend at Fantasporto, a special jury selected French director Pitof's Vidocq for the festival's Melies d'Argent award, thereby sending it to compete for the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation's top Melies d'Or prize in Brussels March 15.