Sex, politics rife in Berlin fest Panorama

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COLOGNE, Germany -- Sex, politics and rock 'n' roll are the themes running through this year's Panorama, the Berlin International Film Festival's main sidebar.

Parvez Sharma's "A Jihad For Love," which will open Panorama's documentary section, Dokumente, looks at the conflict between sexuality and religion by examining the lives of devout Muslims who are homosexual. The film was produced by Sandi Dubowski, who looked at similar issues among gay orthodox Jews in "Trembling Before G-d." That film debuted in Panorama in 2001 and won Berlin's Teddy award for the best film with a homosexual theme.

Sexual politics are at the core of several Dokumente entries including Dondu Kilic's "The Other Istanbul," "Suddenly, Last Winter" from Italian directors Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi, Jochen Hick's "East/West" and "Dead Gay Men and Living Lesbians" by Berlin's own Rosa von Praunheim.

Middle East politics is the focus of Eran Riklis' "Lemon Tree," the drama that opens the Panorama Special section. The film looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of a Palestinian woman who inherits a lemon grove bordering on Israeli territory.

Other high-profile Panorama Special screenings include Brad Anderson's "Transsiberian," featuring Woody Harrelson, Thomas Kretschmann and Ben Kingsley, and the world premiere of Madonna's directorial debut, "Filth & Wisdom" starring Richard E. Grant.

Madonna won't be the only pop star featured on this year's Panorama. Legendary punk princess Patti Smith will give a concert in the German capital to support the Panorama debut of Steven Sebring's documentary "Patti Smith: Dream of Life." Ceri Levy's "Bananaz" follows Britpop regulars Damon Alban and Jamie Hewlett, creators of the virtual band Gorillaz. And in "Heavy Metal in Baghdad," Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi document the lives of Iraqi hard rock band Acrassicauda from the fall of Saddam Hussein to the present.

The Panorama's main section opens Feb. 8 with "Mermaid," a story of growing up in modern-day Moscow by Russian director Anna Melikyan.

Berlin is usually proud of its art-house credentials but this year's lineup includes several titles that cross over into the genre realm. These include Soren Kragh-Jacobsen's political thriller "What No One Knows," the apocalyptic fantasy "Before Fall" from Spanish director Javier Gutierrez and the sci-fi film "Sleep Dealer" by Mexican director Alex Rivera.

A full list of films screening in the 2008 Berlinale Panorma follows.

FEATURE FILMS
"3 zan" by Manijeh Hekmat (Iran) Panorama Special
"Another Love Story" by Lucia Murat (Brazil/France/Uruguay)
"The Aquarium" by Yousry Nasrallah (Egypt/France/Germany)
"Beautiful" by Jaihong Juhn (Republic of Korea) Panorama Special
"Before the Fall" by F. Javier Gutierrez (Spain) Panorama Special
"Boy A" by John Crowley (Great Britain)
"Chiko" by Ozgur Yildirim (Germany) Panorama Special
"Dream Boy" by James Bolton (U.S.)
"Drifting Flowers" by Zero Chou (Taiwan)
"Everything Is Fine" by Yves-Christian Fournier (Canada)
"Filth And Wisdom" by Madonna (Great Britain) Panorama Special
"First Love" by Imaizumi Koichi (Japan)
"Glasses" by Naoko Ogigami (Japan)
"Guilty" by Laetitia Masson (France)
"I Am From Titov Veles" by Teona Strugar Mitevska (Macedonia/France/ Belgium/Slovenia)
"Jerusalema" by Ralph Ziman (South Africa)
"La Rabia" by Albertina Carri (Argentina) Panorama Special
"Lemon Tree" by Eran Riklis (Israel/Germany/France) Panorama Special
"Love And Other Crimes" by Stefan Arsenijevic (Germany/Serbia/Austria/Slovenia) Panorama Special
"Mermaid" by Anna Melikian (Russian Federation)
"Otto; or, up with Dead People" by Bruce LaBruce (Germany/Canada)
"Revanche" by Gotz Spielmann (Austria)
"Sleep Dealer" by Alex Rivera (U.S./Mexico) Panorama Special
"Sonetaula" by Salvatore Mereu (Italy) Panorama Special
"Shiver" by Isidro Ortiz (Spain)
"Soul of a Demon" by Chang Tso-chi (Taiwan) Panorama Special
"The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela" by Olaf de Fleur Johannesson (Iceland)
"The Feelings Factory" by Jean-Marc Moutout (France/Belgium)

PANORAMA SPECIAL
"The Fight" by Anais Barbeau-Lavalette (Canada)
"Transsiberian" by Brad Anderson (Spain/Germany/Great Britain/Lithuania) Panorama Special
"What No One Knows" by Soren Kragh-Jacobsen (Denmark/Sweden) Panorama Special
"Woman's Hearts" by Kiff Kosoof (Italy/Morocco)

SUPPORTING FILMS
"No Bikini" by Claudia Morgado Escanilla (Canada)
"Ta" by Felipe Sholl (Brazil)

DOCUMENTARIES
"A Jihad For Love" by Parvez Sharma (U.S./Germany/Great Britain/France/Australia)
"Bananaz" by Ceri Levy (Great Britain)
"Cafe de los Maestros" by Miguel Kohan (Argentinia)
"Darling! The Pieter-Dirk Uys Story" by Julian Shaw (Australia)
"Dead Gay Men and Living Lesbians" by Rosa von Praunheim (Germany)
"Derek" by Isaac Julien (Great Britain)
"EAST/WEST -- Sex & Politics" by Jochen Hick (Germany)
"Erika Rabau -- Puck of Berlin" by Samson Vicent (Germany)
"Full Battle Rattle" by Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss (U.S.)
"Heavy Metal In Baghdad" by Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi (U.S.)
"Jesus Christus Savior" by Peter Geyer (Germany)
"Patti Smith: Dream of Life" by Steven Sebring (U.S.)
"Sharon" by Dror Moreh (Israel/Germany)
"Suddenly, Last Winter" by Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi (Italy)
"The Beauties from Leipzig" by Gunther Scholz (Germany)
"The Glow Of White Women" by Yunus Vally (South Africa)
"The Living End: Remixed and Remastered" by Gregg Araki (U.S.)
"The Other Side of Istanbul" by Dondu Kilic (Germany)
"Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell" by Matt Wolf (U.S.)
"With Gilbert & George" by Julian Cole (Great Britain)
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