Office Kitano, the production, distribution and promotion team built around offbeat Japanese actor-director (Beat) Takeshi Kitano, has launched a new festival of Asian and independent film.

The establishment of the festival is seen as something of a backlash against the growing commercialism of the long-established Tokyo International Film Festival, which this year opens with The Sixth Day and closes with Charlie's Angels.

Filmex 2000 will be held in Tokyo December 16-24 and include a competitive section for Asian films by emerging directors and a series of special screenings representative of independent film-making from elsewhere around the world.

"We are interested in presenting independent Asian films and those which cannot be shown in Japan," said Shozo Ichiyama, Filmex director and CEO of T-Mark, Office Kitano's specialist film division.

The first three confirmed entries are two Iranian titles: Jafar Panahi's Venice competition film The Circle and Samira Makhmalbaf's Blackboards, which screened in competition at Cannes, and another Venice competitor Jia Zhangke's Platform.

Kitano's own documentary series Travelogues is expected to be found an out of competition slot. The full line-up will be announced in mid-October. Financial backing is coming from the Asahi Shimbun newspaper group and J-Wave radio broadcaster with sponsorship by Johnny Walker whisky.