Mexico is poised to have two major film festivals slated just a month apart.

The 19-year old Guadalajara Mexican and Iberoamerican Film Showcase (March 19 to 25) could get upstaged by a new film event in Mexico City to run from February 19 to 29.

Dubbed the Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival (FICC), it is the brainchild of the city's second largest exhibition circuit, Cinemex, which runs 369 screens, mainly in the capital. The upstart's 19 other sponsors include Pepsi and tequila company, Casa Cuervo.

Cinemex will allott 12 screens from seven of its multiplexes to the festival.

While Guadalajara traditionally has been a showcase for Mexican cinema, it lately has been expanding its offer to include more Iberoamerican and international films.

This year, Guadalajara introduces sidebar Puntos Cardinales which will showcase the latest films from around the world.

Last year, it launched an Iberoamerican film market which will continue under new director Alejandra Paulin who replaces Laura Ruiz. The festival plans a retrospective on Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro whose credits include Apocalypse Now, Last Tango In Paris and Alfonso Arau's upcoming bio epic Zapata which will debut mid February in Mexico.

FICC aims to become a showcase for 100 international independent films, and opens with Tim Burton's Big Fish and closes with Robert Benton's The Human Stain.

It has invited director Mike Figgis, US producer Tom Luddy, Mexican critic Leonardo Garcia Tsao, Mexican film and stage designer/director Felipe Fernandez de Paso and Italian fim critic Anna di Martino to preside over the jury.

"The Mexican film industry and the movie going public has been clamouring for a festival of this kind in the capital," said FICC director Paula Astorga.

"Mexico, after all, is among the largest fllm markets in the world, we need a film event of this dimension," she added. The capital accounts for 40% of the country's box office. FICC will host the world premiere of Mexican drama Bad Luck (Malachance), the directorial debut of Gerardo Naranjo.

Both festivals may see some overlap in their objectives and sidebars. Whether the country can sustain two festivals back-to-back remains to be seen.

Guadalajara boasts nearly two decades of experience but the quality of its editions have hinged on the local industry's output of the previous year. The move to include Iberoamerican productions was a way to ease this dependence.