The 21st Vancouver International Film Festival is to introduce a new local screenwriter's cash award.

The $7,700 Citytv Western Canada Screenwriters Award will be presented annually to a film from western Canada, with this year's winner, selected by the Canadian Images jury, to be announced at the Closing Gala Awards Ceremony on Friday, October 11.

In all, 44 features and shorts from the provinces west of Ontario will compete for a total of $13,400 in prize money, including two established Telefilm Canada awards for emerging filmmakers.

The seven films in this year's screenwriting competition are:

Burial Society (BC) - Nicholas Racz
Flower & Garnet (BC) - Keith Behrman
Long Life, Happiness And Prosperity (BC) - Mina Shum, Dennis Foon
The Nature Of Nicholas (Manitoba) - Jeffery Erbach
Punch (BC) - Guy Bennett
Saint Monica (BC/Ontario) - Terrance Odette
Various Positions (BC) - Ori Kowarsk