Every year, organizers of the Berlin International Film Festival hear the same complaints: "Not enough stars!" "Too Artsy!" But don't be fooled -- the A-listers will be out in force (Pattinson? Check. Angelina? Check.), the films will go on to awards-season glory and the European Film Market will be a dealmaking juggernaut.
The Pitch: Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn executive produced this drug drama debut from Iceland's Oskar Thor Axelsson. Following the bloody footsteps of Refn's Pusher trilogy, Black's Game explores the violent takeover of the Reykjavik drug scene by global gangsters in the 1990s.
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
Pitch: Directed by Roman Coppola (son of Francis) and featuring Charlie Sheen's first big-screen role since his Two and a Half Men meltdown. The comedy has Sheen as the titular 45-year-old graphic designer whose life falls apart when his girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) breaks up with him. Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman also star.
The PItch: French rock 'n' roll pioneer Claude Francois, nicknamed CloClo by fans, gets the hagiographic treatment in this biopic from Florent Emilio Siri (2005's Hostage). It features Belgian actor Jeremie Renier (In Bruges) as the man himself and Robert Knepper (Prison Break) as Frank Sinatra, whose signature tune, "My Way," was a cover of Francois' French original "Comme d'habitude."
Sales: The Solution Entertainment Group
The Pitch: Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connolly star in this dramedy about a single, fateful year in the life of an acclaimed novelist, his ex-wife, their collegiate daughter and teenage son. Written and directed by first-timer Joshua Boone and produced by veteran Judy Cairo (Crazy Heart). Writers is set to begin shooting this spring in North Carolina.
The Pitch: Lars von Trier may have muzzled himself following his now-infamous Nazi comments at the Cannes Film Festival in May, but the Danish bad boy hasn't censored his cinematic output. His upcoming feature promises hard-core pornography paired with a discussion of "the difference between the Eastern and Western Christian churches," he says. TrustNordisk locked up multiple territories in Toronto last year with just the concept and von Trier's name. Expect this sex film to sell wide.
Sales: CJ Entertainment
The Pitch: Asian titles play well in Berlin, and this World War II epic is one of the most ambitious ever made. The Korean film features an all-star Asian cast including Jang Dong-gun, Fan Bingbing and Odagiri Joe. The globe-trotting plot follows two childhood friends -- one Korean, one Japanese -- whose fate sees them travel from the Pacific Rim to the shores of Normandy.
Two Little Boys
Sales: New Zealand Film Commission
The Pitch: For fans of quirky Kiwi comedy, Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Concords) plays Nige, whose long-term bromance with best mate Deano (Hamish Blake) is falling apart due to an unfortunate incident involving a hot meat pie, a ginger cat and the untimely death of a Scandinavian soccer star.
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