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Helmer Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq bomb squad film “The Hurt Locker” will open the 23rd annual Mar del Plata Intl. Film Festival, which unspool Nov. 6-16 in the coastal Argentina city.

Scribe Mark Boal will attend with Bigelow. Argentina’s Gaston Pauls and Julieta Diaz, thesps of local commercial hits “Nueve reinas” (Nine Queens) and “La senal” (The Signal), respectively, will host the opening night of the country’s oldest and Latin America’s only FIAPF Category A fest.

Event includes a retrospective on vet Argentinean director Leonardo Favio, with an open-air and free screening of his latest film “Ancieto.” Favio will present the musical of a romantic ballet, which was chosen as the country’s contender for Spain’s Goya Awards, in the Spanish-language foreign film category.

This is the first festival to be managed by vet helmer Jose A. Martinez Suarez, an institution in Argentina, and his second-in-command Fernando Pena, who ran the Buenos Aires Intl. Festival of Independent Film (Bafici), the country’s biggest and busiest for production and sales deals, for three years until 2007.

They will unveil the lineup of competing films on Oct. 30 in Buenos Aires.

The National Film Institute, Incaa, shifted the Mar del Plata festival to November from March, to take advantage of a pre-summer buzz and bring in better titles and more foreign talent. This edition also will bring back Intercine, a market for distributors, exhibitors, sales agents, international fest programmers, producers and investors in an effort to strike up sales deals for Argentinean films. It will run Nov. 9-13.