Mature themes dominate Berlinale's youth sidebar

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Drinking, drugs, guns and prostitution: Judging by the subject matter of the selected films, the Berlin International Film Festival's children-and-youth sidebar Generation has come of age.

The U.K. drama "Cherrybomb," directed by Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn, stars "Harry Potter" alumnus Rupert Grint as a teenager out for a wild weekend of stealing and drug use.

"Katia's Sister," from famed Dutch director Mijke de Jong — who won Berlin's best children's film Crystal Bear prize in 2005 with "Bluebird" — looks at prostitution among Russian immigrants in Amsterdam.

The Chinese feature "Lala's Gun," helmed by Ning Jingwu, is a coming-of-age story centering on a boy's journey to deliver a gun to his father. And "My Suicide," from U.S. director David Lee Miller, tells the story of a teen romance between a geek and the most beautiful but twisted girl in school.

The initial lineup for Generation 2009, announced Wednesday, also includes more traditional children's fare, including Lars Buchel's "Lippel's Dream," a fantasy tale based on Paul Maar's best-selling book and featuring German stars Moritz Bleibtreu, Anke Engelke and Christiane Paul.

For the first time, the Generation sidebar also will include a documentary: "The Inheritors," from filmmaker Eugenio Polgovsky, examines the legacy of hard work in a Mexican family.

The remaining Generation titles will be announced early next month. The Berlinale is set to run Feb. 5-15. For a complete list of announced titles, go to THR.com/festivals.
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