The Far East Film Festival (FEFF) in Udine, Italy, kicks off its 12th edition today with a line up which includes 24 international premieres out of some 50 new titles from nine different Asian countries.

As a special “pre-inaugural event” Johnnie To was on hand to present Vengeance, released in Italy via Fandango. The festival celebrated To as the first Asian director to promise a film to the festival before its first edition.

Opening this year’s festival is the female romantic rivalry comedy Sophie’s Revenge, from China’s Eva Jin who will be on hand to present the film. The picture is produced by actress Zhang Ziyi, who also stars. Festival director Sabrina Baracetti defines the comic picture as an “all woman’s film” falling somewhere “between Amelie and Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown.”

Also on opening night – as previously reported – Pang Ho-cheung’s Dream Home will have its world premiere.

Other hot titles for this edition include Hong Kong title Gallants, a new twist on Kung Fu auctioneers of the 1960s and 70s by Derek Kwok and Clement Chang; Woochi a superhero themed action comedy from South Korea’s Choi Dong-hoon; Golden Slumber, from Japan, a thriller from Nakamura Yoshihiro the auteurish film The Arrival written, directed and produced by the Philippines Eric Matti; a new psychological thriller from Thailand’s Pakphum Wongjinda (director of 13 Beloved) entitled Who Are You?;The Last Wolf  by Indonesia’s Upi, a violent, street-set gangster themed drama (Baracetti likens Upi to the “Kathryn Bigelow of the East”); the delicate romantic title Hear Me from Taiwan’s Cheng Fen-fen; and Clash, from Vietnam’s Le Thanh Son starring Johnny and Veronica, the nation’s most famous film couple.

Among this year’s guests are Nakamura Yoshihiro and Sakaki Hideo from Japan, Erik Matti from the Philippines, Indonesia’s Riri Riza, China’s Eva Jin, Hong Kong’s Patrick Lung Kong, Pang Ho-Cheung, Patrick Tse and several others.

Within the festival, Ties That Bind (April 25-28) is a producer oriented initiative which unites six Asian and four European producers in a workshop set up to bring the various cultures together. The panel ofinternational experts dedicated to project development includes Elise Jalladeau of Charivari Films, Stefano Tealdi of Stefilm, Clare Downs of Forever Films and Lorna Tee of Irresistiblefilms.

FEFF also boasts the first ever retrospective outside of Asia on the now defunct Japanese film studio Shintoho, which produced over 500 films from 1947-1961 including the works of Kurosawa, Kengi Mizoguci and Yasujiro Ozu. The festival is publishing an English language edition of the retrospective.

A second retrospective on Hong Kong director Patrick Lung Kong will feature seven titles from the director, organized in conjunction with the Hong Kong Film Archive.

The festival is located in Italy’s northeast town of Udine. The well-respected event has become considered Europe’s largest window on Asian cinema, and has also began distributing noted titles like Oscar winning film Departures in Italy. FEFF runs from April 23-May1.