The second edition of the Rome Film Fest kicks off tonight with Alain Corneau's The Second Wind (Le deuxieme souffle), playing in competition.

The remake of the 1966 Jean-Pierre Melville crime noir stars Italian starlet Monica Bellucci and French actor Daniel Auteuil. Bellucci will inaugurate the Fest's red carpet, perhaps with slightlyless star power than last year's inaugural opening with Nicole Kidman in Fur.

The event's second edition - while not high on world premieres (there are ten across the two main sections) is revving up to be a showcase of European and Hollywood stars while staying true to the event's aim of drawing local cinema-goers.

Giorgio Gosetti - co-artistic director of Cinema 2007 and director of The Business Street (Rome's market event) told that so far, 32,000 tickets have been sold for the event.

'For us, Rome should be a place in which you can have the friendly celebration of good cinema and a very good place to work and have business,' Gosetti said.

In it's first weekend, Rome hosts Universal's Elizabeth: The Golden Age (with Cate Blanchett in attendance) as well as Francis Ford Coppola with the world premiere of his Youth Without Youth. Coppola and wife Eleanor will give a talk about her documentary Coda: Thirty Years Later.

In other top names, Sophia Loren will be given the acting award and the Fest will also feature a conversation with Bernardo Bertolucci.

'The second year is a real challenge, even more than the opening year because you have to confirm yourself and you have to establish yourself,' Gosetti admits. 'So our goal is to convince everyone that Rome is already a good tradition.'

To help with this, the organisation - which has five co-artistic directors across four sections - Rome has added a manager, architectFrancesca Via. She has been charged with coordination between the 'artistic and organisational aspects of the Fest,' Gosetti said.

Gosetti also confirmed that the budget of the over all fest is increased by $4.28m (Euros 3m) from its $17m (Euros 12m) festival budget with the use of the Auditorium Parco della Musica location and its staff, bringing the fest's operative budget up to $21.4m (Euros 15m). A temporary screening room was also added on the Auditorium grounds to assure critics and journalists could easily get into screenings.

The Business Street - also under way today for four days - is Rome's market event located on Via Veneto's Hotel Bristol Bernini with two terraces booked for the event.

'We are proud because we increased the number of attendees and have a good international feeling, but I have to repeat the same concept as for the festival: we have to establish it and wait to see if people will buy or sell,' said Gosetti.

Business Street manager Sylvan Auzou said that 80% of his guests were arriving today, with a kick-off dinner hosted tonight.

Locally the industry is out in full form - Italy's Medusa brings four titles to Rome - Silk, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, The Third Mother and August Rush; Bim brings four titles: Youth Without Youth, Mongol, Into the Wild, and Chacun Son Cinema; and Istituto Luce is presenting The Private Man, L'Abbuffata and Auschwitz 2006.