Berlin Focus is world tour of the edgy

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The Berlin International Film Festival's Forum sidebar prides itself on being the home of the eclectic, the edgy and the weird, and this year's lineup doesn't disappoint. The 2008 Forum will feature films from 33 countries and includes 16 directorial debuts.

The stories range from Juan Manuel Sepulveda's illegal immigrant drama "The Infinite Border" to "Son of a Lion," Benjamin Gilmour's story of a young boy struggling to fight tradition in conservative, violent Pakistan, and "My Winnipeg," Canadian director Guy Maddin's tongue-in-cheek tribute to his hometown.

Three Philippine films made it into this year's Forum lineup: Brillante Ma Mendoza's urban drama "Slingshot"; Jim Libiran's debut, "Tribe," about youth gangs in Manila's impoverished Tondo district; and Mes De Guzman's look at the island's rural life, "Balikbayen Box."

Berlin's Forum always puts politics front and center. This year the torn-from-the-headlines story lines include "Night Before Eyes," the directorial debut of Germany's Brigitte Bertele about a German solider returning home from duty in Afghanistan, and Paul Rowley and Nicky Gogan's "Seaview," set among would-be migrants to Ireland.

Japanese director Wakamatsu Koji provides a look a politics past with his three-hour drama "United Red Army," about the 1970s terrorist group.

This year's Forum also will feature a mini retrospective of Koji, with screenings of his films "Secrets Behinds the Wall" (1965), "Go, Go Second Time Virgin" (1969) and "Ecstasy of Angels" (1972).

A complete list of Forum titles is at THR.com.
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