Euro Film Fest spotlights the new


BRUSSELS -- The nine-day European Film Festival kicked off here Friday, showcasing debuts or second features from young directors across the continent.

The festival, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, will screen 28 new films, 17 of which are first features and 11 of which are second efforts.

Festival director Dominique Janne said he hopes to build the event up as a springboard for new talent.

"The selection was deliberately diverse," he said. "We have rummaged across the whole European territory to find films, which include intimate and dramatic movies as well as absurd comedies -- even activism-cinema and playful children's films."

A separate Cinedecouvertes section is open to 20 international films that will be shown in open-air screenings.

The program features two movies co-produced by Belgium's Dardennes brothers, the two-time Palme d'Or winners. They are German filmmaker Maria Speth's second feature, "Madonnas," and Algerian war thriller "The Colonel" (Mon Colonel), directed by France's Laurent Herbiet and co-scripted by Costa-Gavras.

French films screening at the event include Anne Le Ny's hospital love story "Ceux Qui Reste"; David Oelhoffen's "In Your Wake" (Nos retrouvailles), about a violent father-son relationship; and Carine Tardieu's "In Mom's Head" (La Tete De Maman).

Three 2007 Festival de Cannes entries will compete at the festival: Un Certain Regard prizewinner "California Dreamin' " by Romania's Cristian Nemescu, "Garage" from Ireland's Lenny Abrahamson and "Solitary Fragments" (La Soledad) by Spain's Jaime Rosales.

Other films unspooling include "The Horse Thieves" (Voleurs de cheveaux) by Belgium's Micha Wald, "Parting Shot" (Pas douce) by Switzerland's Jeanne Waltz, "A Man's Work" by Finnish helmer Aleksi Salmenpera, "Iska's Journey" by Hungarian Csaba Bollok and "The Art of Crying" by Denmark's Peter Schonau Fog.