Joann Sfar’s Gainsbourg will open the 18th edition of Filmfest Hamburg tonight.

Joann Sfar’s Gainsbourg, starring Eric Elmosnino as the French pop legend and Lucy Gordon in her last role as Jane Birkin, will be the opening film tonight for  the 18th edition of Filmfest Hamburg (September 30 – October 9).

Gainsbourg will be released theatrically in Germany by Prokino on October 14.

Festival director Albert Wiederspiel and his team have selected 160 feature films and documentaries from 48 countries for this year’s programme which includes the world premieres of Josef Rusnak’s Valerie, starring Franka Potente, feature debuts by Pedro Aguilera (Naufragio) and Michael O’Connor (Schlafende Hunde), Greek filmmaker Stratos Tzitzis’ 45 tetragonika, and the late Polish actor Krysztof Nowinski’s documentary 50/50.

In addition, the festival will premiere Iranian-born Ali Samadi Ahadi’s highly topical documentary The Green Wave about the events before and after the 2009 presidential elections in Iran and the regime’s brutal suppression of the opposition. Interviews with leading Iranian exiles and human rights activists are combined with video footage as well as animated sequences of two fictional characters drawing from blogs and entries in social networks. The Green Wave has also been invited to Amsterdam’s IDFA at the end of November.

International premieres being lined up include Masahiro Kobayashi’s Haru’s Journey, Shalom Hager’s Shrouds and Paul Riniker’s Sommervögel, the closing film at the Locarno Film Festival in August, while Bruce McDonald’s This Movie Is Broken, Luc Dionne’s Child Prodigy and Monteith McCollum’s Different Path will have their European premiere in Hamburg.

This year will see the festival’s annual “Deluxe” country focus being dedicated to Argentinian cinema with screenings of classic films by such directors as Lisandro Alonso, Alejandro Agresti and Adolfo Aristarain.

Moreover, the Filmfest will pay homage to the Beatles’ time in Hamburg 50 years ago with a sidebar entitled Strawberry Fields including the German premiere of Sam Taylor-Wood’s Nowhere Boy, Iain Softley’s Backbeat and Horst Königstein’s Hard Days, Hard Nights.

Meanwhile, this year’s Douglas Sirk Award “to pay tribute to a film personality for his or her outstanding merit in film culture” will be presented on Friday evening (October 1) to Julian Schnabel before the screening of his latest film Miral.

According to festival director Albert Wiederspiel, Schnabel is “one of the most versatile artists of his generation. The diversity of his talent is exciting and inspires artists of every genre. Although his filmography is still short, his films are deeply impressive and his oeuvre is remarkable. ”

Previous recipients of the Douglas Sirk Award have included David Cronenberg, Jodie Foster and Clint Eastwood.