Newcastle's first ever international film festival is heading this way, and will be opened by Get Carter director Mike Hodges

FILM director Mike Hodges will be back in the region ?this spring for a special screening of the classic Get Carter. Hodges, whose 1971 crime thriller starring Michael Caine is now a cult favourite, is to be one of the star attractions at the inaugural Newcastle International Film Festival.

March 29 will see the 85-year-old be back in the heart of the region where he shot the film that made his name and where he will open the Newcastle International Film Festival with a showing of the only remaining 35mm copy of Get Carter.? Hodges will also talk about the film at the first-day event which will be attended by celebrity guests whose identities are currently under wraps.

The news will delight not just Get Carter fans, but all North-East film buffs? in the region as excitement builds over the debut festival whose special guests will also include North-East-born award-winning screenwriter Peter Flannery and director Neil Marshall.? The March 29-April 1, four day festival programme will screen all genres of films and events at venues across Newcastle-upon-Tyne, including not just cinemas but also galleries, restaurants, pubs and bars.

Since the announcement of the ambitious festival last summer - at an event attended by Hollywood actress Caroline Goodall and local favourite Craig Conway ?- the festival team have received more than 2,000 film entries from over 90 countries around the world, which have been whittled down by the panel to a wide-ranging programme featuring independents, award-winners, world premieres, shorts, including a British short film which was just been nominated for an Oscar. A 4K digital restoration of Night of the Living Dead ?is also being screened to mark its 50-year anniversary, where ticket holders can dress up in their best 'Walking Dead' get up.

Besides its international focus, the festival is set to be a showcase for North-East talent with Neil Marshall back on home turf for a screening and chat about his 2008 action hit Doomsday and Jarrow-born Peter Flannery set to talk about his ground-breaking TV series Our Friends in the North? which is having a marathon screening. Jill Halfpenny and Denise Welch ?will be making appearances at the festival too.

The film programme will be screened throughout the city, including the Tyneside Cinema, Cineworld, Side Cinema, The Holy Biscuit and Cluny 2; and across the river at Vue Gateshead, with other venues across the region to be confirmed. Events will also be hosted at The Assembly Rooms, Aveika, Colonel Porters, The Mining Institute, The Biscuit Factory and Newcastle Civic Centre as well as at Gateshead College, major sponsors of the inaugural festival which was launched in Cannes last year.

Ambassador of the festival and Schindler's List star Caroline Goodall will be back host a question and answer session following a retrospective of the work of Indian actor Om Puri along with workshops with world famous directors, producers and actors. This is a chance for aspiring talent in the region to learn from the best.

North and South actor Richard Armitage? is expected to attract fans in Newcastle as the star of Urban and the Shed Crew, featuring music by Noel Gallagher? - among the films set to have a first official screening at the festival. Another will be transgender-theme film This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, by Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple.

"As the opening date moves ever closer of the first ever international film festival that Newcastle, and indeed the North-East, has ever held, it's scary and exciting in equal measure," said festival president Jacqui Miller Charlton. "Scary because we want to ensure we deliver to the region an event that the people connect with and understand; and exciting because we are working on some truly amazing events to ensure that there really is something for everyone."

Actor Craig Conway?, who also works as a writer and director and is a producer of the festival, added that having been involved in theatre, TV and theatre the world over, it wa a "blessing" to be part of something being created in the region. "The Newcastle International Festival is the foundation and springboard needed to develop a sustainable industry that will create global success for us all," he said.

The festival programme is still being fine-tuned but tickets are on sale at