French bookend Berlin

Ozon's 'Angel,' Dahan's 'Rose' in competition

French and Asian cinema will be back with a vengeance at next month's Berlin International Film Festival, with four French and four Asian films selected for the official competition lineup.

Francois Ozon's "Angel," about the rise and fall of a young author in early 20th century England, will close the 57th Berlinale on Feb. 18, providing a suitable bookend to an event that kicks off Feb. 8 with the world premiere of "La vie en rose," from another French director, Olivier Dahan.

The other French films in competition ? Andre Techine's "The Witnesses" and Jacques Rivette's "Don't Touch the Axe" ? also will have their world premieres in Berlin.

Asian cinema, largely absent from last year's lineup, returns in force with two Chinese productions, the Wang Quan'an drama "Tuya's Marriage" and Li Yu's urban portrait "Lost In Beijing"; and two from Korea, Zhang Lu's "Desert Dream," about a refugee from North Korea who flees to a barren village on the Chinese/ Mongolian border, and "I'm a Cyborg, but That's OK," the highly anticipated new drama from Park Chan-wook ("Oldboy").

This year's Berlinale lineup ranges from such independent productions as Ryan Eslinger's "When a Man Falls in the Forest" to Zack Snyder's epic "300," an adaptation of the Frank Miller comic about the battle of Thermopylae between 300 Spartans and a Persian army numbering in the millions. Both films will have their world premieres in Berlin, with "300" unspooling out of competition.

Two U.K. productions selected for this year's competition include Richard Eyre's "Notes on a Scandal" and David Mackenzie's "Hallam Foe." Starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, "Scandal" is a psychological drama based on the novel by Zoe Heller. "Foe," which will premiere in Berlin, stars Jamie Bell as a young man living in the Scottish Highlands whose life falls apart after the death of his mother.

Argentine director Ariel Rotter, last seen in Berlin with 2001's "Solo por hoy," returns with "El otro," while Brazilian helmer Cao Hamburger made the cut with his feature film debut "The Year My Parents Went on Holiday," a look at a boy in 1970s Brazil whose parents are taken away by the country's military dictatorship.

Also selected for this year's Berlin competition is "Beaufort," by Israeli director Joseph Cedar ("Campfire"), about the last military unit to be stationed in southern Lebanon before Israeli troops were withdrawn from the country.

Of the 26 films in this year's competition lineup, 19 are world premieres, with six international premieres.

The full competition lineup for the 57th annual Berlin International Film Festival can be found at www.hollywoodreporter.com.
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