This year's program offers a number of promising newcomers some well-earned exposure.Among the old pros heading to Berlin this year -- Clint Eastwood, Steven Soderbergh and Robert De Niro behind the camera and an A-list of Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Tobey Maguire in front of it -- there are still a few fresh faces waiting to be discovered, at least by an international audience.
Perhaps topping that list is Marion Cotillard, whose performance as legendary chanson singer Edith Piaf in Olivier Dahan's "La Vie en Rose" will open the festival.
Already an established presence in her home country, where she has starred in the "Taxi" trilogy, written by Luc Besson, Cotillard is starting to get noticed by Hollywood. After her bit part in Tim Burton's 2003 film "Big Fish," Ridley Scott cast her opposite Russell Crowe in his Provence romance, 2006's "A Good Year." "Rose" could do for her career what 2001's "Amelie" did for Audrey Tautou's.
Another French actress to watch at this year's Berlinale is Marina Hands, who plays the titular madam in Pascale Ferran's Panorama entry "Lady Chatterley."
Nominated as one of the most promising young actresses in France at last year's Cesar Awards, Hands previously appeared in Denys Arcand's
"The Barbarians Invasion," which won the foreign-language film Oscar in 2004. She also will be featured in Julian Schnabel's upcoming literary adaptation "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," set to be released in the U.S. by Focus Features.
Mexican-born Maya Zapata is coming to Berlin with a strong regional reputation, but her festival performance -- opposite Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas in the competition entry "Bordertown" -- could be the launchpad to an international career.
From Asia, Lim Su-jeong's starring turn as a woman who thinks she's a killer android in Park Chan-wook's "I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK" is the kind of role that usually attracts both attention and awards.
Also featured in "I'm a Cyborg" is Jung Ji-hoon, better known to millions of Asian fans as pop star Rain. "I'm a Cyborg" represents his first feature film and first starring role as an actor after a handful of appearances on Korean television. With a rabid fan base in Asia, Rain could be on the way to a major film career -- if his onscreen performance holds up.
Another Asian pop star making his cinematic debut is Kazunari Ninomiya, one-fifth of the Japanese boy band Arashi. In Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima," he plays Saigo, one of the Japanese foot soldiers given the suicidal mission of defending the small volcanic island from the American assault.
And scouts interested in local talent should check out Sandra Huller's performance in Maria Speth's Forum entry "Madonnas." An established theater actor in Germany, Huller won the best actress Silver Bear last year for her cinematic debut as a troubled and perhaps possessed teenager in Hans-Christian Schmid's "Requiem." With "Madonnas," Huller hopes to prove that that harrowing performance was no fluke.
MORE BERLIN COVERAGE
- Sold out: The Berlin fest grows strong, keeps its roots
- Good Germans: Berlin kinder to Hollywood fare
- Face time: Newcomers get some well-earned exposure
- Dialogue: Fest director Dieter Kosslick
- Teutonic turnaround: Fest boosts German cinema surge
- Provocateur theory: Politically (and sexually) charged fare
- The A-list: Ten titles likely to heat up chilly Berlin