The Sao Paulo International Film Festival kicked off on October 22 with a guest-only screening of Ken Loach’s Looking For Eric as festival staff prepared to unveil more than 400 titles in the line-up, including new local films, festival favourites and world premieres.

The 33rd edition of the event held in Brazil’s largest city runs until November 5 and will screen for the first time Andreas Arnstedt’s The Dispensables (Germany), Mateo Guez’s Off World (Canada) and Beatriz Seigner’s Bollywood Dream (Brazil-India-USA), among others.

This year Sao Paulo will incorporate the Itamaraty Award, a competition section with special money prizes presented by the Brazilian Ministry Of External Relations to local work.

In its fourth edition the Itamaraty Award, which was previously associated with the Brasilia Film Festival, will hand out prizes worth R$ 90,000 (US$52,000) to support local production and promote films overseas.

The award covers three categories: best feature film, best documentary and best short. Among the 16 contenders for best film are Marcos Andrade’s Transcendendo Lynch, Marcos Ribeiro’s A Obra De Arte and Gabriel Mascaro’s Um Lugar Do Sol.

Brazilian films usually compete with foreign productions for the Bandeira Paulista award, which is given to new directors who have made no more than three features. Some of the competitors this year are Alexis Dos Santos’ Unmade Beds (UK), Peter Esmonde’s Trimpin: The Sound Of Invention (USA), Warwick Thornton’s Samson & Delilah (Australia) and Philippe van Leeuw’s Le Jour Ou Dieu Est Parti En Voyage (France).

Special guests include the French actress Fanny Ardant, who will show her debut film as director, Cendres Et Sang, and Greece’s Theo Angelopoulos, who will be honoured with a retrospective. The Israeli director Amos Gitai will also be in town to present his last two films, Carmel, which premiered in Cannes, and La Guerre Des Fils De La Lumière Contre Les Fils Des Ténebres, which screened in Locarno.

Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner The White Ribbon, Samuel Maoz’s Venice Golden Lion winner Lebanonand Maren Ade’s Berlin Silver Bear recipient Everyone Else are also in the line-up.

In partnership with the Brazilian Cinematheque, Sao Paulo will also present a special sidebar with nine local classics that have been restored, such as Suzana Amaral’s A Hora Da Estrela (1985), José Mojica Marins’ O Despertar Da Besta (1969) and Leon Hirszman’s Eles Nao Usam Black-Tie (1981).