Roman Polanski's Golden Palm winner The Pianist will open the Festival of East European Cinema in Cottbus (October 30-November 3) which will be placing a particular focus this year on contemporary filmmaking from Poland and the potential for closer collaboration between German and Polish producers.

Apart from the Filmfest Cottbus' official competition and other sidebars, the festival will have a showcase of current Polish cinema ranging from domestic box-office hits and lesser known titles through outstanding TV productions and video art to works by students at the film schools in Lodz and Katowice.

According to the festival organisers, this Polish focus will kick off a series of regional showcases planned for the coming years dedicated to filmmaking from Russia and the European Union candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Poland will also be at the centre of this year's edition of the accompanying industry programme 'Connecting Cottbus' with the creation of a one-day German-Polish co-development meeting 'Coco Spezial', featuring panel discussions on the opportunities for German-Polish cooperation in film and television, pitching sessions and one-to-one meetings between producers.

Nine Polish and 14 German projects have been submitted for pitching at the event which has been organised by the German regional funders Filmboard Berlin-Brandenburg and MDM with the MEDIA Antenne Berlin-Brandenburg, the Polish producers association KIPA, and the newly established MEDIA DESK Poland.

The 'Coco Spezial' will be followed on October 31/November 1 by roundtables on the chances and risks of co-development, strategies for distribution and marketing, and the opportunities for East European films in the West European market with such panellists as Polish producer Dariusz Jablonski (Apple Film Production), German producer Hans-Werner Honert (Saxonia Media), Simon Perry (ACE), German distributor Bjoern Koll (Salzgeber & Co. Medien) and Thom Palmen, president of the European Coordination of Film Festivals.