This month's International Film Festival Rotterdam, considered to be at the cutting edge of the Euro festival circuit, boasts nine world premieres in its main competition section.

Amongst the films screening for the first time in the VPRO Tiger Award Competition - which showcases first or second features - are Shi Runjiu's Chinese gangster movie All The Way; Uruguayan slacker story 25 Watts; and Herve Le Roux's bitter French comedy about the war of the sexes, On Apelle Ca' Le Printemps.

Also making their world premieres are Planet Alex, an apocalyptic take on Berlin; Furumaya Tomoyuki's Bad Company, which explores the strict regime of a highschool teacher; and Dom Rotheroe's UK film about two teenagers' self-destructive relationship, My Brother Tom.

Nanouk Leopold's local title Iles Flottantes, about three girls hitting 30, also world premieres, as does Domesticas, the story of five Brazilian housemaids. From Japan, Kumakiri Kazuyoshi's Hole In The Sky, about a roadside restaurant owner who thinks he has discovered love, also debuts.

Making their European premieres are Park Ki-Hyung's Secret Tears, a South-Korean film about a girl with paranormal powers, and Laura Mana's Compassionate Sex, about a woman in a Mexican village who can save men's lives by sleeping with them. Bangkok Dangerous, the story of a deaf-mute hitman by Chinese-Thai twin brothers Oxide and Danny Pang, is another European premiere.

Maria Speth's Germany film In Den Tag Hinein, about a young woman involved in relationships with two very different men, makes its international premiere. Rounding out the competition are Verboden Te Zuchten, about a solitary journey through Brussels, and Ternitz Tennessee, which focuses on two friends from the Austrian countryside who fall in love with an Elvis impersonator.

"The VPRO Tiger Award Competition remains at the heart of the festival's principle of discovering and nurturing low to medium budget films from new talents," said festival director Simon Field.

The festival's 30th edition, which runs from January 24 to February 4, will open with a surprise selection of films presented simultaneously in 18 different theatres. Offering free tickets, the event aims to record about 5,000 admissions on the one night.

Other highlights include the international premiere of Fukasaku Kinji's controversial Battle Royale. Also screening are Michael Haneke's Code Inconnu, Francois Ozon's Sous Le Sable, Claude Chabrol's Merci Pour Le Chocolat and Chantal Akerman's La Captive.