Berlin Tones Down Hollywood Glitz and Ups the Indie Grit for 2011 Edition
BERLIN -- Berlin is toning down the Hollywood glitz and upping the indie grit for its 2011 edition, with few mainstream titles but many intriguing art house features in the running for this year's Golden Bear.
Margin Call, a thriller from director JC Chandor starring Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Demi Moore and Jeremy Irons, will have its international premiere in competition in Berlin. The film is set in an investment bank during a 24-hour period at the start of the financial meltdown.
Joshua Marston, whose Oscar-nominated Columbian feature Maria Full of Grace won a Berlin Silver Bear in 2004, returns with the world premiere of The Forgiveness of Blood, a drama set in Albania.
Two of Germany's most influential filmmakers -- Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog -- will go head-to-head with non-fiction 3D projects in Berlin. Wenders' dance film Pina about the late choreographer Pina Bausch will screen out of competition while Herzog's 3D doc Cave of Forgotten Dreams will receive a special gala screening at the Berlinale Palast.
Another 3D entry is Tales Of The Night, the latest animated feature from famed French director Michel Ocelot (Kirikou and the Sorceress, Azur and Asmar ), which will be the first 3D film to screen in competition in Berlin.
The Coen Brothers' Western remake True Grit starring Jeff Bridges, will open the 61st Berlin International Film Festival Feb. 10. And Jaume Collet-Serra's thriller Unknown with Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones and Aidan Quinn will enjoy a gala, out of competition, screening in Berlin.
But you'd have to look long and hard for another multiplex-friendly title in Berlin's 2011 lineup.
Hotly anticipated is actor Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut, Coriolanus, starring Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox but an adaptation of one of Shakespeare's lesser-known plays hardly spells guaranteed box office.
Instead Berlin earns some independent cred with lower budget fare, such as Miranda July's The Future or Yelling To The Sky by Victoria Mahoney starring Zoe Kravitz, Precious' Gabourey Sidibe and Tim Blake Nelson.
Coriolanus and Lipstikka, a London and Jerusalem-set thriller from director Jonathan Sagall, are the sole British titles in Berlin competition this year and, shockingly, there are no Scandinavian films in the official lineup. Nordic films usually have pride of place in Berlin but this year, fans of Scandi cinema will have to go to Berlin's sidebar sections, particular the young and kids section Generations.
Even more scandalous, there is a single, solitary Asian film in Berlin competition this year: Come Rain Come Shine from Korean director Lee Yoon-ki (This Charming Girl).
Two German features are in competition this year: the terrorist drama If Not Us, Who, from documentary film maker Andres Veiel and Sleeping Sickness from director Ulrich Kohler. But as much, if not more attention may go to a pair of German language entries running out of competition: the crime drama My Best Enemy from Austria's Wolfgang Murnberger (The Bone Man) and Almanya, a debut feature from Yasemin Samdereli which looks at the hot button issues of immigration and integration in Germany.
Also certain to be seen through the political lens is Nader And Simin, A Separation from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose About Elly won the best director Silver Bear in Berlin in 2009. Iranian cinema has received unwelcome attention from the Islamic regime in Tehran after directors Jafar Panahi and Muhammad Rasoulof were sentenced to six years in jail for making films without official government sanction.
In a show of solidarity, Berlin will screen several of Panahi's films during the festival, which runs Feb. 10-20.
The full line up for the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival follows.
True Grit, USA
Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen
Dir. Yasemin Samdereli
A Mysterious World, Argentina/Germany/Uruguay
Dir. Rodrigo Moreno
Come Rain Come Shine, Republic of Korea
Dir. Lee Yoon-ki
Coriolanus, Great Britain
Dir. Ralph Fiennes
Innocent Saturday, Russia/Germany/Ukraine
Dir. Alexander Mindadze
Lipstikka, Israel/Great Britain
Dir. Jonathan Sagall
Margin Call, USA
Dir. JC Chandor
My Best Enemy, Austria/Luxemburg
Dir. Wolfgang Murnberger
Nader And Simin, A Separation, Iran
Dir. Asghar Farhadi
Our Grand Despair, Turkey/Germany/Netherlands
Dir. Seyfi Teoman
Service Entrance, France
Dir. Philippe Le Guay
Sleeping Sickness, Germany/France/Netherlands
Dir. Ulrich Kohler
Tales Of The Night, France
Dir. Michel Ocelot
The Forgiveness Of Blood, USA
Dir. Joshua Marston
The Prize, Mexico/France/Poland/Germany
Dir. Paula Markovitch
The Turin Horse, Hungary/France/Germany/Switzerland
Dir. Bela Tarr
Yelling To The Sky, USA
Dir. Victoria Mahoney
The Future, Germany/USA
Dir. Miranda July
Out of Competition
Unknown, Germany/Great Britain/France
Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra
Dir. Wim Wenders
If Not Us, Who, Germany
Dir. Andres Veiel
Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, USA
Dir. Werner Herzog
Dir. Jafar Panahi