Tokyo FILMeX (Dec 1-8), the three year old festival that is mounting a challenge to the longer established Tokyo International Film Festival, will open with a screening of Alexander Sokurov's experimental digital film The Russian Ark. Otar Iosseliani's Berlin prize winner Monday Morning will close the festival.

The festival, which is run by Takeshi Kitano's Office Kitano, screens some highly-regarded films from European international festivals this year including Lee Chang-dong's Oasis which won the director's Award at Venice, Blissfully Yours which won the Un Certain Regard at Cannes and the competition contender at the Cannes Film Festival, Amos Gitai's Kedma.

The latest films of three Japanese hot directors receive world premieres at the festival including Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Jellyfish Alert which is currently in post-production, Tsukamoto Shinya's A Snake Of June which has won the Special Jury Prize at Venice and Sabu's The Blessing Bell.

Nine competition films, which will compete for the $8,300 (Y1m) Grand Prize and the $4,100 (Y500,000) Special Jury Prize include Djamshed Usmonov's Angel On The Right, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Blissfully Yours, Meng Jinghui's Chicken Poets, Danny Pang's Nothing To Lose, Lien Chin-hua's Southbound Swallow, Park Jin-pyo's Too Young To Die, Reza Sobhani's Zeestan, Yusuke Iseya's Kakuto and Miwa Nishikawa's Wild Berries both of which are produced by Japanese leading director Kore-eda Hirokazu.

Twelve films will be screened for the special screenings and this year's special programme focuses on Russian films from the 1960s. These include Vladimir Vengerov's Workers' Settlement and Marlen Khutsiyev's July Rain.

Veteran South Korean actor Ahn Sung-ki (Chihwaseon) serves as the chairman of the jury along with four jury members including Hong Kong director Ann Hui (July Rhapsody), Kiyoshi Kurosawa, American director Amir Naderi (A.B.C. Manhattan), French film critic Jean-Michel Frondon (Le Monde).

Established in 2000 Tokyo FILMeX has presented non-Hollywood, indie films with the inscription of "Neo-Auteurship" (strong artistic talents) to introduce emerging Asian filmmakers in competition, special screenings and the masterpieces of filmmakers in focus.

The founder and the programme director, Shozo Ichiyama has produced films domestically and internationally. His works include Nowhere Man by Naoto Takenaka(1991), Flowers Of Shanghai by Hou Hsiao-hsien (1998), Delbaran by Abolfazl Jalili (2001) and Unknown Pleasures by Jia Zhang-ke (2002).

Angel On The Right, Djamshed Usmonov, Tajikistan
Blissfully Yours, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand
Chicken Poets, Meng Jinghui, China
Kakuto, Yusuke Iseya, Japan
Nothing To Lose, Danny Pang, Thailand / Singapore
Southbound Swallow, Lien Chin-hua, Taiwan
Too Young To Die, Park Jin-pyo, South Korea
Wild Berries, Miwa Nishikawa, Japan
Zeestan, Reza Sobhani, Iran

Special Screenings:

The Blessing Bell, Sabu, Japan
Champion, Kwak Kyung-taek, South Korea
Jellyfish Alert, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan
Kedma, Amos Gitai, Israel
Kurosawa Kiyoshi Alert, Kenjiro Fujii, Japan
Marathon, Amir Naderi, USA
Monday Morning, Otar Iosseliani, Italy
Oasis, Lee Chang-dong, South Korea
Russian Ark, Alexander Sokurov, Russia / Germany / Japan
A Snake of June, Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan
Unknown Pleasures, Jia Zhang-ke, China / Japan / South Korea / France
Visible Secret, Ann Hui, Hong Kong