European pols take on film mogul roles

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SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain – Politics always play a part at big European film festivals but with a new award, Europe's politicians are looking to play a direct role in choosing the best in new European cinema.

The new prize, the Prix LUX, will be the first to be picked directly by the 785 elected members of the European Parliament in Brussels. The Parliament will then pay to subtitle and produce prints of the winning film in all 23 of the E.U.'s official languages.

The European Parliament unveiled the new prize on Sunday at the 55th San Sebastian international film festival.

The three films selected by a panel of European industry professionals to compete for the inaugural Prix LUX are Cristian Mungiu's Palme d'Or winner "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" from Romania; Fatih Akin's "The Edge of Heaven" from Germany/Turkey and Manoel de Oliveira's "Belle toujours," a Portuguese/French co-production.

All three were chosen, according to an E.U. spokesman, for their role in "illuminating the public debate on European integration."

The politics are evident in Mungiu's drama, which follows two desperate women trying to arrange an illegal abortion amid the terror of the Chauchesku dictatorship. Or in Akin's multifaceted drama, which traces the lives of six people caught between the culture and politics that divide Turkey from Europe. There is less obvious politics in Oliveira's drama which is an update, 38 years later, of Luis Bunuel's erotic masterpiece "Belle de jour" (1967).

The three films will be screened at the European Parliament between Oct.1-18. Members of parliament that see all three productions will be eligible to vote for the Prix LUX winner. The prize will be announced by the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering, during the assembly's plenary session in Strasbourg, France, between Oct. 22-25.
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