ScreenDaily takes a look at the local and independent releases vying for attention against animated 3D blockbuster Monsters Vs Aliens this weekend.

France openers (April 1)

- French comedy Safari opened on 558 screens through Pathe on April 1. The film features Kad Merad, who also starred in Pathe’s Welcome To The Sticks. The fish-out-of-water comedy is about six French tourists on a South African safari with a guide who’s not been to the bush in 30 years and has a fear of animals.

- The animated La Veritable Histoire Du Chat Botte comes from a trio of directors: Pascal Herold, Jerôme Deschamps and Macha Makeieff. Yolande Moreau, who won the best actress prize at the Cesars this year, lends her voice to the tale of the true origins of Puss-in-Boots. The Euros10m film went out on 319 prints.

- Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut Synecdoche, New York was released by Ocean Films on 22 prints. The film, which debuted in Cannes last year, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton and Catherine Keener and should do good arthouse business despite the long lag between its Cannes opening and wide release.

German openers (April 2)

- After its world premiere in a gala screening as part of the ‘Berlinale Special’ sidebar in February, Florian Gallenberger’s biopic about the ‘Oskar Schindler of China’, John Rabe, has opened for Majestic Filmverleih on 128 screens. The release has been given an added boost by the news of its seven nominations for this year’s German Film Awards which will be announced in Berlin on April 24.

- Peripher Filmverleih opens Carlos Reygadas’ Cannes 2007 Jury Prize winner Silent Light (Stellet Licht) on two cinemas in Berlin and one screen in Hamburg. Set in a Mennonite community in North Mexico, the film is the first ever with dialogue in the medieval German dialect Plautdietsch and is released by Peripher with High German subtitles.

- Salzgeber Medien continues its collaboration with Classica and Unitel with the ‘Classica im Kino’ monthly series with the presentation of Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin. Over 30 digital cinemas throughout Germany will screen the production by Andrea Breth on April 5.

UK openers (April 3)

- Richard Curtis’ pirate radio comedy The Boat That Rocked is rolling out widely across the UK through Universal Pictures International. Curtis’ second directorial effort features an eclectic ensemble cast headed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans and Gemma Arteton.

- Momentum Pictures is opening the US documentary Religulous on approximately 11 screens around the UK, three of which will be in London’s West End. The film follows an investigation by US comedian Bill Maher into world religion and is directed by Borat’s Larry Charles.

- Indie distributor Dogwoof Pictures is opening the German Film Award- winner Cherry Blossoms on a limited release in London and Glasgow. Dorris Dorrie’s film follows a recently bereaved husband flying to Japan to visit the places his wife never had the chance to see.

Spain openers (April 3)

The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley, is opening wide in Spain through Versus Entertainment. The Oscar-winning historical drama tells the story of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

Filmax is releasing Gorka Merchan’s Basque conflict drama La CasaDeMi Padre on 63 screens in select cinemas across the country. La Casa is a hard-hitting drama about the Spanish terrorist organization, ETA.

- TriPictures is launching Deception, starring Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor and Michelle Williams. The romantic thriller, shot partly in Spain, sees an accountant embroiled in a woman’s disappearance and a multi-million dollar heist.

- Andres Wood’s Goya award-winning Chilean drama La BuenaVida will be released by Alta Films in a select few arthouse cinemas, including the Renoir in Madrid. The film delves into the troubled lives of people living in the Chilean capital city, Santiago.