The Venice Film Festival andEurope's biggest Asian film festival, UdineFar East Film, are to collaborate.

The deal signed between thetwo festivals will further help Venice director Marco Mueller keep a close eye on alldevelopments in Asian cinema by tapping in to Udine's network of contacts and Asian film consultants.

The Udine festival, which is based in the north of Italy, said the agreement will help both festivals to putAsian film culture in the international spotlight.

"The deal will allowMueller to get the largest possible amount of information on Asian cinema andon new talent. The two festivals will co-ordinate, leading to a mutual exchangeand valorisation of their resources," Udine festival organisers said.

Mueller, an Asianspecialist, has strongly supported Far Eastern titles during his time at thehelm of the Locarno Film Festival, and at Venice.

In 2004, he set Hayao Miyazaki's animation picture Howl's Moving Castle as the closing film of the Venice FilmFestival. In 2005, Asian titles screening on the Lido included Korean director Park chan-wook's Sympathy For LadyVengeance and Seven Swords by Hong Kong's Tsui Hark.

Last year, Mueller also curated the Secret History of Asian Cinema retrospective,dedicated to "forgotten" restored classic Chinese films and Japanesegenre pictures.

The eighth edition of the Udine Far East Film festival will be held from April 21-29.The festival will screen 54 contemporary Asian titles and will host a19-picture retrospective.

Udine will have the European premiere of Korea's Rules ofDating by Han Jae-rim. It will also screen cultJapanese director Miike Takashi's controversial Imprint, an episode of US TV series Masters of Horror that has not beenscreened in North America because of its violent content. Takashi will attendthe Udine screening.

During the festival, Udine will also host the European premiere of Japaneseblockbuster Always - Sunset on ThirdStreet by Yamazaki Takashi. Other films screening include Park Gwang-hyun's Korean film Welkome to Dongmakgol and WaiKa Fai's The Shopaholics.

Udine will also host a series of discussions on the Asianfilm industry.