Berlin festival combines star power, world view

New films from Roman Polanski and Martin Scorsese to rub shoulders with a historical drama from China.

February 1, 2010 21:42
2 minute read.
Roman Polanski 248.88

Roman Polanski 248.88. (photo credit: AP [file])


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BERLIN — New films from Roman Polanski and Martin Scorsese will rub shoulders with a historical drama from China and the work of an elusive British graffiti artist at this year's 60th edition of the Berlin film festival.

Organizers on Monday presented the official program of 26 films for the Feb. 11-21 event, the first of the year's major European film festivals. Twenty of them are competing for the top Golden Bear award.

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It offers a mix of star power with a diverse global view. Scorsese is expected in Berlin along with Leonardo DiCaprio for the debut of his Shutter Island, which follows an investigation into the disappearance of a murderess from a mental institution.

Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan are expected in Berlin, which will have the world premiere of Polanski's The Ghost Writer. The movie stars Brosnan as a former British prime minister who is writing his memoirs with the help of a ghostwriter, played by McGregor.

The director himself is under house arrest in Switzerland, where he awaits possible extradition to the U.S., which he fled in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

From Europe, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg will be showing his new film Submarino and France's Benoit Delepine will premiere Mammuth, starring Gerard Depardieu. Britain's Michael Winterbottom contributes The Killer Inside Me, starring Casey Affleck.

This year's festival will be bookended by Asian entries. The opening film is Apart Together, from Chinese director Wang Quan'an, whose Tuya's Marriage won the Golden Bear in 2007.

The story of a one-time soldier reunited with the love of his life decades after fleeing Shanghai for Taiwan, "this film is somewhat symbolic for us" in a year that sees the 20th anniversary of German reunification, festival director Dieter Kosslick said.

"It's about a separation by politics and a private reunification," he said.

The closing film will be veteran Japanese director Yoji Yamada's About Her Brother, one of many films this year that examines the workings of families.

One guest won't be making a public appearance: graffiti artist Banksy, who made his name tagging walls and bridges and refuses to reveal his real name.

His film Exit Through The Gift Shop will be showing out of competition. "He will be present but, of course, he won't be seen," Kosslick said.

The Berlin festival was founded in 1951 and for decades was "part of the shop window of the west" of the divided city, the director recalled. It has spread across the German capital since reunification in 1990.

Organizers plan this year to use the Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of the city's division and reunification, as the backdrop for one screening of the restored original version of Fritz Lang's 1927 silent sci-fi classic, Metropolis.

This year's awards will be bestowed by a seven-member international jury under veteran German-born filmmaker Werner Herzog that includes actress Renee Zellweger.

Juries have often favored less-heralded productions such as last year's Golden Bear winner, The Milk of Sorrow from Peru's Claudia Llosa.

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