The 23rd Guadalajara International Film Festival will open next Friday with Mguel Kohan's El Cafe De Los Maestros, a documentary about the glory days of Argentinian Tango.

Argentina is the featured country this year and ten Argentinian films will screen this year, while the festival will also act as a meeting point for producers and distributors from Argentina in order to strengthen ties with Mexico.

The Festival, which has evolved from a local festival into the biggest film event in Mexico for local production and films from Latin America, Spain and Portugal, will give $750,000 in cash prizes for its competition sections.

In the Ibero-American fiction section 14 features will compete for the top prize, including Elite Squad from Brazil - which won the Golden Bear in Berlin recently - El Bano Del Papa from Uruguay and first films such as Dog Eat Dog from Colombia, Desierto Sur from Chile, La Rabia from Argentina and Personal Belongings from Cuba.

Fernando Eimbcke's Lake Tahoe, winner of the FIPRESCI Prize and Alfred Bauer Award in Berlin, and Rodrigo Pla's Desierto Adentro, the follow-up to his acclaimed La Zona, are the most anticipated films in the Mexican fiction category.

13 Ibero American documentaries and six Mexican documentaries, as well as 73 shorts films, complete the official selections.

The festival is this year launching Visionary Campus Guadalajara, a documentary focus taking place from March 10-14 in collaboration with the Berlinale Talent Campus, Canana and Ambulante Documentary Film Festival.

68 students will take part in workshops and master classes held by well known Mexican filmmakers such as Fernando Eimbcke or Nicolas Echeverria, and foreign executives such as Vincenzo Bugno (World Cinema Fund Berlinale) or Patricia Boero (PBS Latino).

Special guests attending the festival this year will be director John Sayles and actor Danny Glover from Honeydripper, Canadian actress and director Sarah Polley with Away from Her, and Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla, who has won two Academy Awards for Brokeback Mountain and Babel.

Mexican producer Bertha Navarro will be honored with the festival's Mayahuel de Plata award for her longstanding career. She produced Guillermo del Toro Pan's Labyrinth, among other titles.

The sixth edition of the market at the Guadalajara Film Festival will feature 576 titles with some 450 buyers and sellers in attendance. A special initiative entitled Made In Mexico will screen 17 features for market attendees in order to encourage the distribution of Mexican films abroad.

The Ibero-American Film Co-Production Meeting boasts a cash prize worth $150,000-$250,000 as a minimum guarantee from Spanish broadcaster RTVE for Spanish TV rights.

Cine en Construccion Toulouse-Guadalajara will help to complete six features in post-production with a total award of $220,000. And roundtables modelled on the Cannes Market's Producers Network will feature industry figures like Julie Bergeron (Producers Network Manager) and Sheila de la Varende (National Film Board of Canada).

According to festival director Jorge Sanchez, 'Last year, we had about 70,000 admissions. This year, we've added more screens, and we expect to double that.'