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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 June 2006, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Swansea premieres film festival
Catherine Zeta Jones
Oscar-winner Catherine Zeta Jones was born and raised in Swansea
The first movie festival in Catherine Zeta Jones' home city premieres at the weekend, with screenings of 70 movies by filmmakers from across the world.

The inaugural Swansea Bay Film Festival line-up was chosen by internet votes.

The Swansea area has a fine film heritage, including Zeta Jones, Richard Burton and Sir Anthony Hopkins, and it is hoped the festival will become an annual event.

There will also be a series of lectures before an awards ceremony on Thursday.

Playwright Binda Singh, who helped launch the festival, said even though it was in its infancy it had attracted entrants from as far afield as Canada, New Zealand and Columbia.

"We've had over 1,000 inquiries from filmmakers with over 160 submissions," he explained.

Trailers for each had been linked to the festival's website and for several months people were able to cast their votes on which should be screened.

"We are screening about 70 films and the winners will be chosen by votes cast on the internet and by the panel of judges," he added.

"To have such a response in the first year has been fantastic."

It's important films, plays - anything that enlarges your interest - are promoted and recognised
Victor Spinetti

Among those taking part in question and answer sessions will be John Hefin, a former BBC head of drama and the director of cult Welsh rugby comedy Grand Slam, and author James Hawes, who wrote Rancid Aluminium.

UK premieres include Fern Hill, the story of four children who go in search of a wrecked plane in Colorado and loosely based on the Dylan Thomas poem of the same name, and Teenage Wasteland which was shot on location in Swansea and Newport.

The best film and actor awards will be presented by screen and stage character actor Victor Spinetti, whose many credits include the first three Beatles films.

He said: "At one time everything happened in London but now it's happening in Wales.

"Just imagine when Richard Burton was alive - he would not have had to have gone to Berlin to get the Golden Bear.

"It's important films, plays, anything that enlarges your interest, are promoted and recognised."

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