The Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF- Nov 17-26) celebrates its 47th anniversary with a record 305 films from 44 countries, plus a major push into film market and co-production activities.

Among the 14 titles in competition-reserved to first and second films-the festival boasts an unprecedented four international premieres: Marcus Herling's Riding Up Front (Germany), Joshua Dorsey's The Point (Canada), Mona Zandi Haghighi's On A Friday Afternoon (Iran), and Alexandros Voulgaris' Pink (Greece).There will also be two European premieres: Tae-yong Kim's Family Ties (South Korea) and Cao Baoping's Trouble Makers (China).The festival will also host the world premiere of the Rape Of The Sabine Women, the new work of the American celebrated visual artist and film maker Eve Sussman.

The international jury will be headed by the American independent producer Christine Vachon and includes Brazilian director Katia Lund, Danish screenwriter Mogens Rukov, French film guru Pierre Rissient, Spanish film critic Diego Galan, Chinese director-actress Xu Jinglei and Greek stage director-actor Lefteris Voyatzis.

They will decide on the winners of this year's Golden and Silver Alexanders worth respectively $47,500 (Euros 37,000) and $28,000 (Euros 22,000) plus a number of additional awards.

The Cannes Golden Palm and Foreign Academy Award winner, Chinese master Chen Kaige has been added to the impressive roster of attendants, which includes Wim Wenders, Walter Salles, Costa Gavras, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Jan Svankmajer, Abderrahmane Sissako, Lili Taylor, Juliette Lewis, Emanuelle Beart, Sandrine Bonnaire, Valeria Golino.

Wenders will be in Thessaloniki presenting a complete retrospective of his work and a photo exhibition on his films (Still Images of Moving Pictures) staged by photographer and wife Donata.

He and his long-time friend Walter Salles will host a joint masterclass. The later will also head the Brazilian delegation attending the presentation of a large retrospective of Brazilian cinema from the cornerstone Cinema Novo movement of the sixties to nowadays.

Gavras will host a masterclass and will introduce Laurent Herbiet's Mon Colonel that he scripted and co-produced.

Chen Kaige will also host a masterclass. Both he and Wenders will receive honorary Golden Alexanders.

Kaige's presence at TIFF coincides with a major opening of the festival towards mainland Chinese cinema marking the first time a Western festival highlights the unknown-to western audiences-side of the recent Chinese production.

The 22 titles-strong selection, curated by Chinese cinema specialist, the respected UK film critic Derek Elley, is accompanied by a large Chinese delegation formed by directors, press and heads of the China Film Import-Export Corp.

The latter's presence coincides with a major push of TIFF director Despina Mouzaki towards beefing up the film market and related activities.

They include an umbrella industry centre, encompassing a market, the regional script development Balkan Fund, the new Salonica Studio/Film Students workshop as well as the Crossroads co-production initiative.

The latter will be led by former Cannes Fortnight head, French producer Marie-Pierre Macia, and includes in its line-up of the 18 selected projects pitching for funding, new efforts by such directors as Amos Gitai, Raoul Ruiz and Mimmo Calopresti.

The Greek Films 2006 section spotlights 22 new productions. New this year is the Digital Wave sidebar where 11 local films shot in video compete for a score of awards offered among others by such sponsors of the event as Nokia. A sidebar on Immigration on Greek Cinema and tributes complement the panorama of the local film scene.

The Independence Days-ID 06 side section, steered by Lefteris Adamidis, composed by 50 plus titles, includes a tribute to the surrealistic legendary Czech master Jan Svankmajer and spotlights to the Malian Abderrahmane Sissako, the American independent Jim McKay and Royston Tan from Singapore.

Svankmajer will be honoured with a special Golden Alexander and will present an exhibition of his and his late wife and collaborator artwork (Imaginative Eye, Imaginative Hand).

The trade mark Balkan survey section catering to films from the region celebrates its 12th anniversary with a 11 titles-strong selection and a five-film spotlight on the Turkish multi awarded director Nuri Bilge Ceylan who will also present in international premiere his photo exhibition (Turkey Cinemascope: The world of Nuri Bilge Ceylan).

Focus, the first thematic section to ever be presented at the festival is added this year to the line up. It builds its programme around the subject of adolescence.

Curated by film critic Konstantinos Kontovrakis, Focus is inspired by Larry Clark's photographic album Teenage Lust(1983), which followed the autobiographical Tulsa - long before Clark's directorial debut Kids.

Twelve filmmakers, most of them newcomers, from different parts of the world, present films which tackle the crucial and defining moments of adolescence.