As it attempts to recover ground lost to supporters of the rival London Screenings, Mifed has announced an increase in the number of premieres and films screening at the market, as well as several innovations including a convention on international relations, a VIP Lounge and a new market award.

Mifed organizers said 487 movies will be on offer at the Milan Fiera compared to 455 last year, with premieres rising to 322 titles from last year's 269. Around 32% of the films on offer will come from the US, while French films will account for 19% of the total, the UK around 11%, and Germany and Italy each 9%. To reflect the increase in the number of screenings, the market confirmed an extra evening screening slot.

The market also reported that 20 new companies from the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Taiwan, France, South Korea and Italy have booked office space. Market premieres include Mira Nair's Venice winner, Monsoon Wedding, as well as Clare Peploe's Triumph Of Love and Alejandro Amenabar's Nicole Kidman starrer, The Others. The growing Asian presence at the market will be represented, among others, by Fruit Chan's Hollywood Hong Kong, A Single Drop Of Water In A Mighty River and Beijing Rocks.

Mifed also announced that it be hosting for the first time an annual convention on international relations within the film business, with a particular focus on Europe and the US. The market will also host a seminar on the challenges of online distribution.

By placing the emphasis firmly on global issues and promoting the market's international importance, Mifed clearly hopes to win back support for an event which has recently lost ground to the rival London Screenings. The Milan market's cause wasn't helped by its decision to hike prices, causing a number of buyers and sellers to recently state their preference for the UK event which takes place the preceeding week.

Meanwhile, Rassegne, the market's new services-oriented private operator, said it will also introduce several internet points, and a VIP lounge for buyers and sellers to conduct business in the Fiera away from the general hustle and bustle of the market.

Other innovations include a new prize for the European film that has performed best at the international box-office since last year's market. The prize will be handed out in addition to the annual Mifed Award, an Eurimages-promoted award for the Best European international distributor.