Berlinale serves up savory side dishes

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The Berlinale has finalized the lineups for its Forum and Culinary Cinema sidebars, adding Robert Kenner's "Food Inc." along with a slew of political documentaries from the likes of Hans-Christian Schmid, Simone Bitton and Thomas Heise.

In the avant-garde-focused Forum, Bitton follows up her 2004 Sundance award-winner "Wall" with another doc focused on conflict in the Middle East: "Rachel" takes up the story of U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed in 2003 while trying to prevent the destruction of houses in the Gaza Strip.

Schmid, whose drama "Storm" will screen in competition in Berlin, has a Forum entry with "The Wonderful Life of Laundry," a look at Polish workers who launder dirty linen trucked across the border from Berlin luxury hotels. Heise's new doc, "Material," also is set in Berlin and features unreleased footage of events surrounding the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.

Now in its third year, Berlin's Culinary Cinema section takes the dinner-and-a-movie concept to the next level, featuring gala screenings of food-themed films, followed by meals prepared by some of Europe's finest chefs.

"Food Inc.," a doc based on the best-selling exposé of the international food production industry, will open the event Feb. 8. Berlin chef Tim Raue will follow with a non-mass-produced meal.

Other highlights include Gianni Di Gregorio's "Mid-August Lunch" and the Spanish comedy "Dieta Mediterranea" from Joaquin Oristrell.

The 59th Berlin International Film Festival runs Feb. 5-15. (partialdiff)
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