The 49th Thessaloniki International Film Festival opens today with Daren Aronofsky's The Wrestler as the opening gala film, which will be introduced by its star Evan Rachel Wood.

The festival features two world premieres as well as six international and three European premieres.

The festival's international jury is headed by: Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje; screenwriter Diablo Cody; director Yesim Ustaolu; producer Lita Stantic; actress Emilie Dequenne; film critic David Robinson; and composer Dionisis Savopoulos.

The jury will hand out the Golden and Silver Alexander worth respectively $46,400 (Euros 37,000) and $27,600 (Euros 22,000).

Over the course of the festival, master classes will be offered by Terence Davies, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Oliver Stone, Takeshi Kitano, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Emir Kusturica who will be presented with honorary Golden Alexanders.

Further masterclasses will be given by Academy award winning cinematographer Guillermo Navarro and Willem Dafoe, the star of Theo Angelopoulos' The Dust Of Time.

Theo Angelopoulos will also be present at the festival for The Dust Of Time national premiere.

Festival retrospectives are dedicated to the Dardenne brothers, Terence Davies and the late Ousmane Sembene.

Other strands of the festival include:

Division And Unity: Cinema In The Middle East is an 11 film-strong homage to countries of the region; the Balkan survey; and the Greek films 2008 Panorama.

The Independence Days section curated by Lefteris Adamidis will offer 50 plus titles including a homage to American Independents.

Official Programme Line up:

Opening Film

The Wrestler, Daren Aronofsky,

Closing Film

Frost/Nixon , Ron Howard,

International competition

Selda by Ellen Ramos and Paolo Villaluna, Philippines, (European premiere)

A Broom Becomes A Goldfish by Dong-joo Kim, Korea, (International premiere)

Winds of September by Tom Shu-Yu Lin, Taiwan, (European premiere)

The Hourglass by Szabolcs Tolnai, Serbia, Hungary, Montenegro, (International. premiere)

Three Blind Mice by Matthew Newton, Australia

Una Semana Solos by Celina Murga, Argentina

Ordinary Boys by Daniel Hernandez, Spain

Over There by Abdolreza Kahani, Iran, (European premiere)

Hooked by Adrian Sitaru, Romania

Voy A Explotar by Gerardo Naranjo Gonzalez, Mexico

Firaaq by Nandita Das, India

Le Bruit Des Gens Autour (Sunny Spells) by Diasteme, France, (International premiere)

Without by Alexandros Avranas, Greece, (World premiere)

Three Moments by Petros Sevastikoglou (World premiere)

Out of competition

Lake Tahoe by Fernando Eimbcke, Mexico

Cordero De Dios by Lucia Cedron, Argentina

Frozen River, by Courtney Hunt, USA

Special Screenings

Cafe De Los Maestros by Miguel Kohan, Argentina.

Linha De Passe by Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas, Brazil

Achilles To Kame by Takeshi Kitano, Japan

Rachel Getting Married by Jonathan Demme, USA

W by Oliver Stone, USA

New Town Killers by Richard Jobson, UK

Ashes Of Time Redux by Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong

35 Shots Of Rum by Claire Denis, France

Le Mystere De La Tour Eiffel by Julien Duvivier, France

Night And The City, by Jules Dassin, USA