Berlin film festival adds competition titles

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COLOGNE, Germany -- Isabel Coixet's "Elegy," an adaptation of the Philip Roth bestseller "The Dying Animal," Erick Zonca's "Julia" starring Tilda Swinton and "Sparrow," the latest crime drama from Hong Kong helmer Johnnie To are among the titles that have been picked for the competition lineup of the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival.

Also heading to Berlin are Mike Leigh's North London drama "Happy-Go-Lucky;" Robert Guediguian's French working class thriller "Lady Jane" and the politically themed drama "Restless" from Israeli Amos Kollek.

Another competition film with strong political undertones is "Heart of Fire," Luigi Florni's adaptation the biography of African child soldier Senait Mehari. The film follows the cross-over success of his "The Story of the Weeping Camel" (2003), which Florni co-directed with Mongolian filmmaker Byambasuren Davaa.

"Heart of Fire" is only the second German film to make this year's cut in Berlin, the other being Doris Dorrie's "Kirschbluten -- Hanami." Berlin fest favorite Yoji Yamada returns to the competition this year with his latest, the WWII family drama "Kabei -- Our Mother."

Italy's Antonella Grimaldi, who last appeared in Berlin's Panorama sidebar with "Bits and Pieces" in 1996, will bring his literary adaptation of Sandro Veronesi's bestseller "Quiet Chaos" to the festival.

This year's Berlinale is slowing shaping up. Competition titles already announced include Paul Thomas Anderson's critically praised "There Will Be Blood," "In Love We Trust" from Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai ("Beijing Bicycle"), Fernando Eimbcke's "Lake Tahoe" and the Errol Morris documentary "S.O.P. Standard Operating Procedure."

The frstival runs Feb. 7-17.
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