CZECH REPUBLIC: Risqué late-night screenings for students

One of the world's oldest festivals of film for children and teenagers is introducing late night screenings of more adult and controversial movies to satisfy growing numbers of university students in its audiences.

The Zlin International Film Festival for Children and Youth in the Czech Republic will mark its 48th edition in the first week of June with the introduction of a new section called 'Night Horizons'. The festival, held in a small Moravian town also famous for its shoe factory and Frank Lloyd Wright-designed modernist housing, has witnessed growing popularity with audiences swollen by students from the local Tomas Bata university.

The university, one of the Czech Republic's newest, was founded in 2001 and has around 11,000 full-time students.

"We are expecting more than 400 films and around 60,000 spectators this year," said festival spokesman Ondrej Hrudka. "The new section will be focused more on university students who have comprised a larger and larger share of spectators ever since Zlin became a vibrant university town."

In the past the festival had concentrated almost exclusively on films made for children and young people with only some movie fare aimed at older teenagers of interest to the "more mature part of festival goers". The new section - which will highlight controversial subjects such as inter-racial marriage and homosexuality not normally seen at Czech cinemas - will move into territory Hrudka described as "themes of boundary crossing and transition between youth and adulthood".

Other new sections at the festival that should provide a draw for hip college students include a showcase of Japanese 'manga' animated films and a special focus on the best of British cinema. Programmed with the help of the UK cultural organisation, the British Council, the showcase will cover films from the 1940s to the present with works by such acclaimed directors as Lindsay Anderson, Alan Parker and John Boorman featuring.

The Zlin International Film Festival for Children and Youth runs from 1-8 June.