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All-stars face off with global upstarts Berlin film fest a launchpad for H’wood fare

BERLIN, Feb 2, (AFP): New movies from Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater will go head-to-head with upstarts from Europe, China and Latin America for the Golden Bear top prize at the Berlin film festival starting Thursday. The 64th Berlinale, as the 11-day event is known, marks the first major European festival of the year and serves as a launchpad for Hollywood fare and risk-taking independent movies from around the world. US producer James Schamus (“Brokeback Mountain”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) will lead a jury including double-Oscar-winning Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, Hong Kong star Tony Leung and French filmmaker Michel Gondry awarding the main prizes among 20 contenders on Feb 15. The sprawling festival will screen more than 400 films in cinemas across the snowy German capital, and many of the hottest tickets are for movies outside the main competition.

George Clooney is due in town to present “The Monuments Men”, about a team of art experts who fought to protect precious artworks from the Nazis during World War II. The picture also stars Matt Damon, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett. Jan Schulz-Ojala, chief critic for Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel — who has been covering the festival for two decades — said that anticipation was also building for a director’s cut of Danish provocateur Lars von Trier’s new sex epic “Nymphomaniac Volume I” starring Charlotte Gainsbourg. “It is 30-35 minutes longer than the version already running in Denmark and other places and so it’s of very special interest for cinephiles,” he told AFP.

“What was cut out of the cinema version — is it explosive or superfluous? I’m really curious.” However, he noted that von Trier was not expected to appear in public in Berlin following a disastrous stop in 2011 at the Cannes film festival where he was ignominiously booted out for making a Nazi joke about himself at a press conference. “You’ll essentially have a red carpet for an invisible man,” Schulz-Ojala said. On opening night, Anderson will unveil his keenly awaited “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, starring Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody and Tilda Swinton, about the escapades of a crafty concierge between the two world wars. Linklater, who brought his now Oscar-nominated “Before Midnight” to Berlin last year, will show “Boyhood”, made over more than a decade and starring frequent collaborator Ethan Hawke as well as Patricia Arquette.

Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker teams up with Harvey Keitel in Rachid Bouchareb’s “Two Men in Town”, about an ex-convict who has converted to Islam.
The French-Algerian director is best known for the 2006 drama “Days of Glory” (Indigenes), about north Africans serving in the French army during World War II.
Schulz-Ojala said he was also intrigued by entries from Argentina and China, “two strong countries for cinema”.

The drama “History of Fear”, set in a gated community in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, is director Benjamin Naishtat’s first feature.
And Celina Murga’s “The Third Side of the River” tells the story of a respected doctor who lives a double life with separate families. She is one of four women vying for prizes.
China will be represented by the thrillers “Black Coal, Thin Ice” by Diao Yinan, Ning Hao’s “No Man’s Land”, and the novel adaptation “Blind Massage” by Lou Ye.
“These are independent, genre-inspired films, set far from the glittering cities,” festival director Dieter Kosslick told reporters.

Peruvian director Claudia Llosa, who captured the Golden Bear in 2009 for her harrowing drama “The Milk of Sorrow”, will present her English-language debut, “Aloft”, featuring Jennifer Connelly and Cillian Murphy.
Austrian filmmaker Feo Aladag, who picked up prizes on the festival circuit in 2010 for “When We Leave”, about so-called “honour killings”, will unveil “Inbetween Worlds”, about a German soldier in Afghanistan.
Iranian-Austrian director Sudabeh Mortezai will present a docudrama about young refugees in Vienna called “Macondo”.
The festival will also honour veteran British director Ken Loach, 77, with a Golden Bear for lifetime achievement and a retrospective of his work.
The Romanian family drama “Child’s Pose”, about a growing cleft between rich and poor since the end of communism, took home the top prize last year.
The event will wrap up on Feb 16 with screenings of its biggest hits.

Here is the complete list including the English title, director and countries where the films were produced:
“’71”, Yann Demange, Britain (feature debut)
“Aimer, boire et chanter” (Life of Riley), Alain Resnais, France
“Aloft”, Claudia Llosa starring Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Melanie Laurent, Spain/Canada/France
“Bai Ri Yan Huo” (Black Coal, Thin Ice), Diao Yinan, China
“Boyhood”, Richard Linklater starring Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, US
“Chiisai Ouchi” (The Little House), Yoji Yamada, Japan
“Die geliebten Schwestern” (Beloved Sisters), Dominik Graf, Germany
“Historia del miedo” (History of Fear), Benjamin Naishtat, Argentina/Uruguay/Germany/France (feature debut)
“Jack”, Edward Berger, Germany
“Kraftidioten” (In Order of Disappearance), Hans Petter Moland starring Stellan Skarsgard and Bruno Ganz, Norway
“Kreuzweg” (Stations of the Cross), Dietrich Brueggemann, Germany
“La belle et la bete” (Beauty and the Beast), Christophe Gans starring Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux, France/Germany (out of competition)
“La tercera orilla” (The Third Side of the River), Celina Murga, Argentina/Germany/Netherlands
“La voie de l’ennemi” (Two Men in Town), Rachid Bouchareb starring Forest Whitaker, Harvey Keitel, Brenda Blethyn, France/Algeria/US/Belgium
“Macondo”, Sudabeh Mortezai, Austria (feature debut)
“Nymphomaniac, Volume I” (extended director’s cut) Lars von Trier starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Denmark/France/Belgium/Sweden (out of competition)
“Praia do Futuro”, Karim Ainouz, Brazil/Germany
“Stratos”, Yannis Economides, Greece/Germany/Cyprus
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”, Wes Anderson starring Ralph Fiennes, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Britain/Germany (opening film)
“The Monuments Men”, George Clooney starring Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Germany/US (out of competition)
“Tui Na” (Blind Massage), Ye Lou, China/France
“Wu Ren Qu” (No Man’s Land), Hao Ning, China
“Zwischen Welten” (Inbetween Worlds) Feo Aladag, Germany
“Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq”, Nancy Buirski, US
“A Long Way Down”, Pascal Chaumeil starring Pierce Brosnan and Toni Collette, Britain/Germany
“Baal” (1969), Volker Schloendorff starring Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Margarethe von Trotta, Germany (festival premiere)
“Das finstere Tal” (The Dark Valley), Andreas Prochaska, Austria/Germany
“Diplomatie” (Diplomacy), Volker Schloendorff, France/Germany
“En du elsker” (Someone You Love), Pernille Fischer Christensen, Denmark
“Kathedralen der Kultur” (Cathedrals of Culture), Wim Wenders, Michael Glawogger, Michael Madsen, Robert Redford, Margreth Olin and Karim Ainouz, Germany/Denmark/Austria/Norway/France
“Night Will Fall” (work in progress), Andre Singer, Britain
“The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden”, Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller with narration by Cate Blanchett and Diane Kruger, US
“The Turning”, anthology film by several directors starring Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne and others, Australia
“The Two Faces of January”, Hossein Amini starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Oscar Isaac, Britain/US/France (feature debut)
“Untitled New York Review Of Books Documentary” (work in progress), Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi
“Watermark”, Jennifer Baichwal, Canada
“We Come As Friends”, Hubert Sauper, France/Austria

Hooligans wearing hoods and balaclavas injured three people on Saturday when they burst into a movie theatre hosting a gay film festival in the Bosnian capital, police said.
“Several hooligans entered the Kriterion cinema during the festival. Three people were injured and taken to a hospital, but their lives are not in danger,” a police official, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP.

The official said the police were gathering information about the incident and would decide later whether charges would be filed.
Organisers of the three-day event, which opened last Friday, could not be immediately reached for comment, but a cinema employee said “ten to 15 hooded people wearing balaclavas entered the movie theatre.”
The hooligans “did not break anything, but they were yelling and intimidating participants who attended a debate which followed the screening of a movie,” he told AFP.
The festival, dubbed “Merlinka” and organised by both Bosnian and Serbian gay rights groups, plans to show some 30 movies on the rights and culture of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people.

Bosnia is a largely conservative Muslim country and the capital Sarajevo has usually been hostile towards hosting events linked to homosexuality.
The only attempt to organise a Gay Pride march and a festival in 2008 ended up in violence which left eight people injured.
At the time dozens of radical Islamists attacked the participants at the opening of an exhibition on the eve of the march, which in the end did not take place.

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