Kazakh filmmaker Dareshan Omirbajev's Jol will open this year's FilmFestival Cottbus (October 31 - November 4) which has developed into a leading international showcase spotlighting the range of production from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

German producer Peter Rommel, Directors Fortnight selector Jacques Gerber and Russian actor Ivan Shvedoff are among the members of the international festival jury which will be viewing 11 films from nine countries screening in the feature film competition section, including Jan Cvitkovic's Bread And Milk (Kruh I Mieko), Sergei Bodrov Jr.'s Sisters (Sestry), Danis Tanovic's No Man's Land, Marek Bukowski's blok.pl and Gjergi Xhuvani's Slogans.

This year's Regional Focus sidebar, meanwhile, is dedicated to filmmaking from Kazakhstan and Tadzhikistan with the screening of around 30 shorts and feature films, ranging from Nariman Turabajev's Antiromantika and Alexei Berkovich's Julia through Denis Beketov's Angel Moi and Tachir Sabiro's Ashk Wa Samshed to Abay Karpykov's Fara and Talgat Temenov's Kasn Posle Smert.

While local box-office successes such as the Pole Filip Bajon's blockbuster Przedwiosnie will be shown in the sidebar entitled 'National Hits', the festival's 'Spectrum' section will present new works by directors who had previously been guests in Cottbus such as Egoisci by Mariusz Trelinski, Maimil by Aktna Abdykalykov, and Torzok by Arpad Sopsits, and also showcase a programme of unusual debut films.

In addition, Cottbus will host a two-day conference - connecting cottbus - on 'Shooting and Producing in Eastern Europe' in collaboration with the Berlin-based Nipkow Programme. Supported by the Land of Brandenburg's Ministry of Economics and Filmboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the event will include a panel discussion on film financing with Columbia TriStar's Juergen Schau, and producers Dariusz Jablonski (of Poland's Apple Film) and Guntis Trekteris (of Latvia's Kaupo Filma) as well as an analysis of shooting conditions in Germany, Romania and Latvia on the basis of case studies and the opportunity for visiting producers to pitch new projects.