North Korea's 10th Pyongyang International Film Festival (Sep13-22) opened yesterday with a programme of more than 70 features films fromaround 30 countries and 50 organisations.

According to the isolationistcountry's Korean Central News Agency, the line-up includes theatrical andmade-for-TV films - with a competition and special screenings for films "highlyregarded" at various international film festivals.

Although little else hasbeen announced from the so-called Hermit Kingdom, eight Chinese films will be presented at the festival, according tothe cultural division of the Chinese Embassy in the DPRK.

The Pyongyang InternationalFilm and TV Programme market is also open for international exchange,co-production and technical cooperation.

The festival - known amongstKorean cinema aficionados as "the other PIFF" (in reference to the hugelysuccessful Pusan fest in the South) - has been held every two tothree years since 1987. The last edition was held in September 2004.

Representatives from France, Italy, Germany, UK, Scandinavia, China, Singapore, Nigeria, Cambodia and Syria are attending. The Cannes film festival's Directors' Fortnight programmer JeremySegay is among the festival's invited guests.

The Korean Film Council(KOFIC) had also been in talks with the festival to send a comprehensiveentourage of South Korean film industry representatives, but virtually allNorth-South talks and exchange were interrupted in July when North Koreatest-launched seven missiles.

At the opening, thefestival's organising director Kang Neung-soo said: "It is greatly beneficialto have our filmmakers, charged with the heavy mission of leading the times,gathered in one place to share one another's experiences and strengthen cooperation."He went on to emphasise the importance of "rejecting the invasion of culturesof insolent ideologies and preserving one's own people's art and culture."

The festival's proclaimedideal is that of "Independence, Peace, and Friendship," reflecting its roots as acultural exchange between countries of the non-aligned movement.