US director Julian Schnabel will introduce his The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which won for Best Director at Cannes, at tonight's (Aug 20) kick-off for the Copenhagen International Film Festival (CIFF).

He will be followed by guests including Jim Sheridan, Patrice Leconte, David Hare, Julie Gavras, Sam Garbarski, Stefan Ruzowitsky, Jean-Claude Carriere and Kenneth Branagh in the largest contingency of international filmmakers to attend the Danish event unspooling 147 features in its fifth edition.

Presided over by Swedish producer Katinka Farago, the jury awarding the Golden Swan awards includes Norwegian writer-director-producer Bent Hamer, Danish actress Sofie Grabol, Turkish actor-director Tuncel Kurtiz and Palestinian actor Makram Khoury.

Among the 11 contenders are Stefan Ruzowitsky's The Counterfeiters, David Mackenzie's Hallam Foe, Sam Gabarski's Irina Palm, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi's Actresses, Ake Sandgren's To Love Someone, Marius Holst's Mirush and Ragnar Bragason's Children.

Eight woman filmmakers will compete for the festival's Alice prize, presented in collaboration with Women in Film and Television.

Entries comprise Belgian director Marion Hansel's Sounds of Sand and Swiss director Andrea Staka's Golden Leopard winner from Locarno, Das Fraulein.

New Danish Screen, the funding scheme instigated by the Danish Film Institute to discover and develop new talent, will introduce six new films: Poul E Madsen's Mother Dearest, Soren Frellesen's Boy Meets Girl, Martin De Thurah's Young Man Falling, Oliver Zahle's Exposure, Lars Wass-Thomas Glud's Getting Out and Christian E Christiansen's At Night.

CIFF will be the first festival to show Spielberg on Spielberg, a documentary made with US critic Richard Schickel, adding Spielberg's award-winning Munich.

The Scandinavian premiere of Leconte's My Best Friend will highlight a French showcase, and special tributes are for Ingmar Bergman (The Shame) and Jean Renoir (The Human Beast).

The Copenhagen International Film Festival will host the European Film Awards in 2008, which will take place at Copenhagen's Forum on Dec 6.