Asian anime is akey theme for this year's Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) (Apr14-30) which will be book-ended by two Japanese animations. Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy opens the festival while MamoruOshii's Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence isthe closing film.

The 18thedition of SIFF will screen over 300 films from 40 countries, including sixworld premieres and 25 Asian premieres. Eleven Asian films, such as GarinNugroho's Of Love and Eggs and LyleNemenzo Sacris' First Time, are incompetition for the Silver Screen Awards to be presented on Apr 28.

Epic films areanother theme. Lav Diaz's Evolution is an 11-hour long epic that followsthe life of a Filipino family through the turbulent decades of the Marcosregime; Edgar Reitz's Heimat 3 is over 11 hours long; Jacques Richard's HenriLanglois: The Phantom of the Cinema and Israel-Palestinian production Route181 are both at four hours.

A special focuson Vietnam includes a tribute to directors Do Minh Tuan (The Laughing Plague)and Luu Trong Ninh (The Gamble). Another retrospective focuses onTaiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao Hsien whose influence has been strong onMalaysia's new wave cinema. Hou will be in Singapore for the local premiere of CafeLumiere.