The 31st Norwegian International Film Festival (Aug 17-21) in the small western town of Haugesund is set to benefit from one of the country's most interesting filmmakers being lured to Hollywood.

Erik Skjoldbjaerg (Insomnia) is bringing the two US stars - Christina Ricci and Jason Biggs - from his latest film Prozac Nation with him to the film's Norwegian premiere at the festival.

Haugesund is packed with some 100 features already set for a theatrical release in Norway. Along with Prozac Nation they include recent festival hits like Swimming Pool, The Mother and Charlie: The Life And Art Of Charles Chaplin.

They join US fare like Sinbad, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Down With Love and The Italian Job. This year also sees a record number of local films in the main programme including Magnus Martens' football-love-comedy United, Morten Tyldum's Karlovy Vary pleaser Buddy and Lars Goran Petterson's Sami black comedy Bazo.

They are joined by three Norwegian co-productions, Lars von Trier's Dogville, Per Fly's acclaimed drama Inheritance and the Jamaican music-love-story One Love.

Much of the international attention is focused on the New Nordic Films annual market showcasing the newest films from the region. Taking place over the last weekend of the festival, the event has seen its dates move back so that it always takes place the weekend before Venice.

New Nordic Films usually attracts more buyers than its Swedish counterpart and collaborator in Goteborg. Among the new Nordic films screening are Timo Koivusalo's Sibelius and Johanna Vuoksenmaa's Upswing from Finland; Reza Bagher's Cappricciosa and Christina Olofsson's A Different Way from Sweden; Jannik Johansen's Stealing Rembrandt and Jesper W. Nielsen's Bouncer From Denmark.

The festival itself is non-competitive, but the Amanda Awards (best local film, actors etc.) as well as The Nordic Film Award (best Nordic film) and the newly instigated Nordic Debutant Amanda are all handed out at a ceremony which is broadcast live on television.

In the latter category five first time directors, singled out by the Nordic Film Institutes, compete for the US$6,800 (NOK50.000) Canal+ sponsored prize. The nominees are Denmark's Christoffer Boe, Finland's Johanna Vuoksenmaa, Norway's Morten Tyldum as well as Iceland's Dagur Kari Petursson for Noi Albinoi and Klaus Haro for the Swedish-Finnish Elina.

Other guests include Denmark's Ulrich Thomsen and Ghita Noerby, Sweden's Lisa Werlinder, Jamaica's Ky-mani (son of Bob) Marley, the UK's Roger Michell and Hanif Kureishi as well as France's Ludivine Sagnier. Richard Schickel and Michael Chaplin accompany Charlie: The Life And Art Of Charles Chaplin.