Miguel Pereira, head of Latin America's leading film festival, Mar del Plata, is due to start principal photography on his latest feature film days after the festival closes.

He is in Berlin this week helping artistic producer Mauro Andrizzi put the finishing touches to the festival line-up. Twelve films have been selected for the competition line-up with four further slots still to be filled.

The cameras roll on Pereira's The Man Who Came To A Village in his home town, Jujuy, in the last week of March; Mar del Plata runs from March 11 to 20.

Pereira, one of Argentina's leading film-makers, won Berlin's Silver Bear in 1988 with La Deuda Interna.

Pereira's latest film, which has a budget of Euros 4m, has attracted Oscar-winning heavyweights: Christopher Hampton wrote the screenplay, an adaptation of Hector Tizon's novel, and Robert Duvall is acting executive producer.

The UK-France-Italian-Spanish-Argentinian co-production, produced by Pereira's Capa Blanca Films and Douglas Cummins' Axiom Films, stars Leonardo Sbaraglia, who won a Goya Award in 2001 for Intacto, and Maria Botto, who was nominated for a Goya for Soldados De Salamina. It will be post-produced in London.

Mar del Plata's Women In Cinema sidebar, headed by Marta Bianchi, has been turned into a competitive event this year. A jury of four will judge the merits of a 20-strong line-up.

The festival is increasingly focusing on Latin American films as well as bringing the cream of art-house cinema to Argentina to satisfy the festival's cinephiles and film critics. 'We are transforming the festival into the place where all the best Latin American films can be seen and be sold,' said Pereira. 'We must give the festival more of a Latin American flavour and make it a reflection of ourselves.'

Tributes this year include one to Venice Silver Lion winner Fernando Birri and Palm d'Or winner Fernando E Solanas, who received an honorary Golden Bear in Berlin this year.