As the 68th edition of Mifed kicked off yesterday under its new private operator, Rassegne, interest was expected to hot up on a slew of market premieres, including Robert Altman's much-anticipated Gosford Park and Spanish Penelope Cruz-starrer No News From God.

Other titles expected to cause a stir include Fred Schepisi's Last Orders, which stars Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins and is sold by Winchester; John Malkovich's directorial debut, Dancer Upstairs, sold by Lolafilms; Film Four's Gerry, Gus Van Sant's new picture featuring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's younger brother, Casey; Fine Line's Liliana Cavani-directed Ripley's Game; Indian box office sensation Everybody Says I'm Fine from Madhu Entertainment; and Interclick's Korean hit Jin-Kyu's My Wife Is A Gangster, on which Miramax has picked up remake rights.

Meanwhile, Mifed announced that 231 companies from 24 countries are attending the market. Largely because of the economic downturn and events following September 11, this is down slightly from last year, when 247 film companies from 22 countries attended.

Mifed's Elena Lloyd said that the market will not be handing out its annual Mifed Award this year, the Eurimages-promoted award for Best European international distributor.

Plans to award a prize for the first time to the European film that has performed best at the international box-office have also been scrapped. Lloyd had already announced that the gala evening during which the Mifed Award is normally handed out would be cancelled out of solidarity for the victims of the September 11 attacks. The (undisclosed) budget for the event will be donated to the NY Firefighters Memorial Fund.