The Moscow International Film Festival got off to a roaringstart on Friday night (18 June) with guests Quentin Tarantino, David Carradine,Lawrence Bender and Harvey Weinstein taking to the stage at the Pushkin Theatreto rousing applause.

Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol 2 was the opening film and Tarantino kidded the audience about Russianaudio visual piracy asking all those who saw Kill Bill Vol 1 to raise their hands, then asking all those who hadseen Kill Bill Vol 2 already onpirate video to raise their hands.

The second question netted only half a dozen hands, butgreat laughter.

The surprise guest of the evening who also drew the largestround of applause was Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov who graced the opening for thefirst time, signalling warmer relations between the festival and the city.

Meanwhile, local director Vladimir Mashkov's film Papa - which he directs and stars in - looks astrong contender for the audience award winner. His was the only competitionfilm to draw cheers and applausefrom the audience when it was announced.

The film is about a relationship between an old Russian Jewand his father between 1929 and 1944.

Two other Russian films are in competition this year, DmitryMeskhiyev's war drama, Our Own, andMarina Razbezhkina's Harvest Timeabout a Russian peasant woman who wins a communist award for her labour.

There is also Vagif Mustafayev's National Bomb a Russian and Azerbaijan co-production that recountsthe trials and tribulations of shooting a film in Azerbaijan.