For the opening night on Thursday, festival organisers decided not to roll out the red carpet for visiting stars, dimming the papparazzi's flashes and turning what was to be a gala into a fundraiser for tsunami victims. 

Instead of the one film originally scheduled for the opening -the South African feature Red Dust - organisers showed six films at six theatres, donating all the ticket sales. 

A moment of silence for the victims was held before each screening, and diplomats representing the nations where the films were made spoke about their countries' efforts in tsunami relief. 

Donations

Proceeds from ticket sales throughout the festival will be donated to tsunami relief, and organisers are giving out information about the recovery at every event. 

A moment of silence for the dead
was held before each screening
 

In its third year, the festival's international competition includes 13 films from around the world, including one from Thailand. 

An international jury will name award four Golden Kinnaree Awards - named for a half-human, half-bird creature from Thai mythology - for best film, best actor, best actress, and best director. 

ASEAN Competition

The festival also holds a second competition for films from Southeast Asia. The ASEAN Competition - for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - includes 14 films from seven countries. A panel of international journalists will choose the winner. 

The festival has scheduled an ASEAN Panorama, showing a collection of the best cinema of the year from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 

The host country is also putting on a Thai Panorama, showcasing its own directors' work, including the year's most successful Thai films and new films by the country's top directors. 

A separate competition will run for up-and-coming directors, who have only one or two films to their name. 

And the festival will also present awards for best Asian short films, animation and documentary. Beyond the competition, the festival will screen some 80 films from around the world, allowing the public to vote on an award for the top audience-pleaser. 

All of the Golden Kinnaree will be presented at an awards ceremony on 21 January .