The Middle East will be the regional focus for the Open Doors platform at this year's Locarno International Film Festival (August 1-11).

Filmmakers will be invited from Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Israel, Iraq and Jordan to present projects to potential co-producers.

Meanwhile, an innovation at the festival's 60th anniversary edition will be the introduction of a new international competition for fiction films by young directors who have not yet made feature films.

'It's time to give a new push to shorts in the festival,' artistic director Frederic Maire explained. 'It is more logical to focus on authors than on regions.'

Until now, the festival had had two separate competitions for its Leopards of Tomorrow section: one for recent Swiss productions and the other for a guest region.

As from 2007, the Leopards of Tomorrow international competition will be open to filmmakers from every country in the world.