The 22nd Mar del Plata International Film Festival, which runs March 8-18, is launching the Ernesto Che Guevara prize with a cash award of $50,000 for the best film in a new section reserved for first and second Latin American features and documentaries to run parallel to the official competition.

'The new cash prize will be distributed in the following way: $10,000 to the director, $10,000 to the producer and the remaining $30,000 to cover the marketing expenses to launch the film in Argentina,' festival director Miguel Pereira told

Latin America's only FIAPF classified A-festival 'is increasing its focus on the region's emerging talents,' explains Pereira, who is in his fifth and final year as head of the event.

This year's complete programme will be announced during next month Berlin's EFM, but Pereira confirmed that Argentinians Gustavo Postiglione's La Peli and Hernan Gaffet's Ciudad en Celo (City In Heat), and veteran Brazilian master Carlos Caca Diegues' O Maior Amor do Mundo (The Biggest Love in the World) will be part of the official competition, while Christian Bernard-Flavio Nardini's Regresados and Nicolas Prividera's documentary M. have been selected for the new Latin American section.

Among the 300 titles (120 features and 180 shorts) selected for this year's edition are Manoel de Oliveira's Belle Toujours, Bruno Dumont's Flanders, Lars Von Trier's The Boss of it All, Rachid Bouchareb's Days of Glory and Johnnie To's Exiled and Election 2.

'There will be a gala tribute to the late directors Fabian Bielinsky and Eduardo Mignogna, a retrospective of Aardman's works with the presence of Peter Lord and David Sproxton, a focus on Afro-American cinema with Charles Burnett, and selections of new Italian films and auteur movies from the Maghreb,' says Pereira.

An important addition to the festival this year will be a series of conferences on the future of cinema coordinated by former Buenos Aires Film Festival director Eduardo Antin (Quintin) and with the participation of top film critics like Jonathan Rosenbaum, Kent Jones, Mark Peranson, Adrian Martin, Cristina Nord and Alvaro Arroba.

The Mercosur Film Market, which runned parallel to the festival in its first two editions, will be organised by the local film institute (INCAA) in Buenos Aires later this year.

The film festival drew a record total of 150,000 admissions last year and Pereira hopes to surpass that figure in March.