THIS has been the first year of the Glasgow Film Festival Audience Award, a contest which gives you the chance to give the work of first- or second-time directors a boost.

There are ten films in the running, three of which - A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, When Animals Dream and The Wonders - are showing between now and Sunday, March 1, when the winner will be announced.

The Australian drama 52 Tuesdays (three stars) was a winner at last year's Sundance. The Tuesdays of the title are the days teenager Billie spends with her mother Jane, who is undergoing a sex change. A tough subject to handle with the subtlety required, but all concerned just about manage it.

Life In A Fishbowl (three stars) takes as its starting point the meltdown of the banking sector in Iceland. Through three linked stories, director Baldvin Zophoniasson explores how the mighty and not so mighty fell. While the link to the financial crisis is tenuous there is no doubting the strength of the performances.

In Appropriate Behaviour (three stars) a star is born in the shape of Desiree Akhavan, writer, director and actor. Those familiar with Akhavan in Lena Dunham's Girls will need no introduction, but for the rest of us her performance here as Shirin - Iranian-American, Brooklynite, bisexual - is one to mark her out as a talent to watch.

Some fascinating pictures are coming out of Iraq at the moment, including Mardan (two stars), directed by Bahman Ghobadi. It's a police drama, but not as we in the west know it, for good and otherwise. Good in that it offers an intriguing glimpse into a world usually hidden; not so good in that it is a slow, achingly ponderous affair.

The same blight strikes Radiator (two stars), a British drama by Tom Browne. Richard Johnson and Gemma Jones are excellent as the aged couple struggling to cope with his increasing frailty, but while humour lightens the load here and there, it is still hard going.

Tender (three stars) is an Australian documentary that is as good as its title. In the town of Port Kembla, the residents wonder why the business of death has to be such an expensive affair. Deciding to set up their own charity to deal with local funerals, they find out much about burials, cremation and themselves in the process. A fruitful subject but the focus is rather narrow.

Theeb (four stars) has been a hit with GFF audiences and must be in with a strong chance on Sunday. Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat acts beyond his years as a Bedouin boy becoming a man in the Ottoman Empire in 1916. A thrilling boy's own tale.