(01/03/07)– March promises to be a film feast in London and Manchester, with five festivals taking place in the second fortnight of the month. The Polish film festival (pictured, still from Copying Beethoven by Agnieszka Holland) takes place at several venues across London, including Riverside Studios, Curzon Mayfair, Prince Charles Cinema, Phoenix Cinema, Rio Cinema and Spiro Ark. This will be the fifth edition of the event and the programme includes features, documentaries and animation films produced in Poland. The festival will give film goers an opportunity to see Holland’s aforementioned film, Jan Jakub Kolski’s Jasminum and Slawomir Fabicki’s Retrieval. There will also be a retrospective of the renowned documentary film maker, Marcel Lozinski, and the animated films of Iza Plucinska and Ewa Ziobrowska.

Taking place during the same period at the Barbican Centre is the London Australian Film Festival, which this year arrives at its 13th edition. The organisers promise the "biggest and strongest programme yet of 25 new features (including for the first time this year all the 2006 Australian Film Institute award winners), eight documentaries, two family films, and three archive classics, including the UK Premiere of the digital restoration of the earliest film ever made, The Story of the Kelly Gang." This year’s event kicks off on Thursday 15 March with an Opening Gala Screening of Ray Lawrence’s psychological thriller, Jindabyne, his follow up to Lantana, starring Gabriel Byrne and Laura Linney. Adapted from a Raymond Carver short story Jindabyne is the story of four friends who discover a dead woman on a fishing trip, but decide to continue fishing and delay reporting the body until later, with far-reaching consequences which shake their lives to the core. the festival closes on the 25th when director Rolf de Heer will attend his Ten Canoe, the first mainstream Australian film to be shot in an Indigenous Aboriginal language. Set in the distant mythical past of the remote Arafura Swamp region of north-eastern Arnhem Ten Canoes tells of an epic journey of kidnapping, magic, love and revenge.

Up North in Manchester, the ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival returns to Cornerhouse for its 13th edition. The organisers promise UK feature debuts, plus shorts and documentaries. The annual themed section will showcase a line-up of horror films and festival audiences will also be able to attend Q&A’s and join in the educational programmes. Among the films being show are Salvador (Puig Antich) directed by Manuel Huerga who will be attending this year’s festival. Starring Daniel Brühl, this film has been nominated for 11 Spanish Goya Awards this year including Best Film, Lead Actor and Adapted Screenplay. Based on the true story of Salvador Puig Antich, a young militant from the Iberian Liberation Movement who became the last political prisoner to be executed in Spain by the garrotte, the film follows the desperate attempts of his family, colleagues and lawyers to prevent his execution.

Starting later in the month is the 11th London edition of the Human Rights Watch festival which takes place in London at the The Ritzy, ICA, Renoir, Gate Cinema, Clapham Picturehouse, Greenwich Picturehouse and Curzon Mayfair between 21 and 30 March. The programme includes 22 documentary and feature films, which "go beyond the headlines to reveal the human and economic realities of today’s global stories, including three 2007 Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film. Twenty countries feature in the 2007 programme: Afghanistan, Algeria, Belarus, Burma, Chile, DR Congo, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Israel, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Mexico, Palestine, Romania and the USA.

Spanning a shorter period of four days between 29 March and 01 April, A Rendez-vous with French Cinema will take place at the Curzon Mayfair cinema to showcase new French films. The programme will include twelve films by both emerging and established directors. French stars will be present to meet the public and for post-screening Q&As.