Despite losing its backing from the Polish Ministry for Cinematography, this year's 17th annual Warsaw International Film Festival, (October 4-15) screened 126 films from 37 countries, drawing a record audience of 61,000 - making it the biggest edition so far.

The international non-competitive festival awarded its audience poll prize to Lone Scherfig's Italian For Beginners.

A highlight of the event was the announcement by Andrzej Wajda and Wojciech Marczewski that they had founded a new film school in Warsaw, the Andrzej Wajda School of Film Directing, will open in the spring of 2002. The announcement was hailed as a hopeful sign that Poland was ready to nurture a future generation of young talent.

The festival has also begun to attract more foreign film professionals with the second of edition this year of the side bar Warsaw Screenings which features a selection of the top new Polish productions from the past year.

Festival programmers from Cannes, Berlin, Rotterdam and Karlovy Vary and other festivals watched six films with English subtitles: Angelus by Lech Majewski, Bellissima by Artur Urbanski, Eukaliptus by Marcin Krzysztalowicz, Golasy (Naked) by Witold Swietnicki, Portret Podwojny (Double Portrait) by Mariusz Front and Requiem by Witold Leszczynski.