This year's Hong KongInternational Film Festival (HKIFF) will open with two local films - the worldpremiere of Johnnie To's Election 2and Pang Ho Cheung's Isabella, whichrecently won a Silver Bear for best score at Berlin.

The festival, which runs April4-19, will close with two other Berlin competition titles - Marc Evans' Snow Cake and Neil Armfield's Candy. Other Berlin titles to screen at the event include The Blossoming Of Maximo Oliveros, directedby the Philippines' Auraeus Solito, So Yong Kim's In Between Days and Zhang Yuan's Little Red Flowers.

The 16-day festival, whichwill screen around 253 films from 42 countries, will also feature aretrospective of Johnnie To's Hong Kong-based production powerhouse, MilkywayImage, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

Meanwhile, the [si]@HKIFF programme,aimed at the youth audience, will host the world premiere of pan-Asian horroromnibus Black Night.

Other highlights include a tributeto action choreographers, which will screen 20 films that showcase actionchoreography from different eras; programmes dedicated to recent Hong Kong and mainland Chinese films; a Nordic Lights sidebar and spotlights onWerner Herzog and Japanese director Nakagawa Nobuo.

As in previous years, thefestival will also host the Asian Digital Competition and the HumanitarianAward for Documentaries.

"A lot of exciting newtalent has emerged since we launched the digital competition," says HKIFFexecutive director Peter Tsi. "Many new filmmakers from China and other Asian territories are embracing thismedium and we're seeing a lot of interesting work as a result."

The festival has faced aseries of budget cuts in recent years as it has moved from being a public toprivately-funded event and has become increasingly dependent on corporatesponsors. The organisers are currently considering its future direction as itfaces growing competition from better-funded events in Bangkok and Pusan.