The Singapore International Film Festival (April 18-30), which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, will showcase more than 300 films from 40 countries.

For the first time, a Sri Lankan film will open the festival - Prasanna Jayakody's feature debut Sankara - a Buddhist fable about desire and non-attachment. Indonesian veteran director Garin Nugroho's Opera Jawa, a fusion of Indonesian music, court dances and avant-garde art installations, will be the closing film.

As with previous years, the festival will culminate in the Silver Screen Awards ceremony. This year will see 11 Asian features and 53 Singapore shorts in competition.

In addition to films from well-known directors such as Nugroho's Opera Jawa and Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Scream Of The Ants, the competition line-up also features works from young directors such as Chinese director Ying Liang's The Other Half and the world premiere of Solos, a surrealistic portrayal of the selfishness of love, by Singapore co-directors Kan Lume and Loo Zihan.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary, a retrospective of 37 award-winning Singapore short films will be held. Two seminars are also included in the nine-hour programme to discuss the evolution of Singapore filmmaking.

'As a modest festival in terms of budget in the region, we aim to mature new and young talents. SIFF is instrumental in kick-starting a filmmaking community in Singapore, from Jack Neo and Kelvin Tong to Eric Khoo and Royston Tan,' says festival director Philip Cheah.

This year's event will feature four world premieres, four international premieres and 16 Asian premieres.

Silver Screen Awards competition titles:

The Other Half Dir Ying Liang (China)

In The Shadow Of The Dog Dir Girish Kasaravalli (India)

Opera Jawa Dir Garin Nugroho (Indonesia)

Crossing The Dust Dir Shawkat Amin Korki (Iraki Kurdistan)

Scream of The Ants Dir Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Iran)

Steppe Express Dir Amanzhol Aituarov (Kazakhstan)

Ad Lib Night Dir Lee Yoon Ki (Korea)

Like A Virgin Dir Lee Hae Young/ Lee Haejun (Korea)

The Last Man (Le Dernier Homme) Dir Ghassan Salhab (Lebanon)

The Woven Stories Of The Other Dir Sherad Anthony Sanchez (The Philippines)

Solos Dir Kan Lume/ Loo Zihan (Singapore)