Director Akihito Shiota's Dororo will open the 9th edition of Italy 's Udine Far East Film Festival (April 20-28).

Shiota will be present at the Dororo's European premiere. The film - which has grossed $26 million to date, is a massive success in his native Japan and already spawned plans for a sequel. Based on a famous manga by Osamu Tezuka, (the 'father' of Japanese comics) the film recounts the legend of a samurai forced to fight against 48 devils to regain 48 parts of his own body.

This year's festival will host over 60 titles from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Philippines, Japan, Singapore and Thailand. The official line-up is expected at the end of March, but confirmed titles include Nana, The Sinking of Japan (Nihon Chinbotsu) and Umizaru 2.

The 9th edition will also host a retrospective of Patrick Tam. Organisers confirmed Tam's presence at the festival.

In a move to branch out in distribution of Asian titles, the Udine Far East Film Fest pacted with Rome based distributor Ripley's Film late last year to release Asian films to Italian consumers. Jonnie To's thriller PTU (their first DVD release in November 2006) will be followed by a release this month of To's Yesterday Once More, as well as other titles. The group points to move into theatrical distribution with the same titles later this year.

The non-competitive festival (there is one audience prize announced closing night) began in 1998 as a retrospective of Hong Kong cinema. The success of the first edition and participation of guests from Asia led the organisers to branch out to include other countries from the Far East.