Stones make a splash at Berlinale

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BERLIN -- Martin Scorsese and the Rolling Stones rolled in to rock Berlin on Thursday as Scorsese's Stones concert film "Shine a Light" kicked off the 58th annual Berlin International Film Festival.

Getting Scorsese and the Stones was a major coup for Berlin festival director Dieter Kosslick and his team, and it paid off with a media-crazed opening night.

Fans aged 16-60 packed the streets outside the Berlinale Palast theater and the phalanx of cameras and satellite vans would have put Cannes to shame.

Scorsese, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts all graced the red carpet, although the Stones acted the typical rock stars, showing up a half-hour late.

In addition to the main attraction, a who's who of German cinema and politics as well as a few international names, including Goldie Hawn and punk princess Patti Smith, showed up for the gala screening.

The opening ceremony kicked off with a performance from Berlin pop band Wir sind Helden followed by a series of awkward but mostly charming back-and-forths between festival director Dieter Kosslick and German TV presenter Katrin Bauerfeind.

German cultural and media affairs minister Bernd Neumann used the opening ceremony as an opportunity to promote Germany as a film location. Neumann also pledged to extend Germany's new tax break fund – which was a factor in attracting productions from "Speed Racer" to "The International" to Berlin -- beyond 2009 to keep the big-budget features coming.

The Stones themselves took the stage with Scorsese before "Shine a Light" unspooled. Kosslick presented Jagger and Scorsese with mini Berlin Golden Bears and drummer Charlie Watts with red Berlinale drumsticks.

But it was Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit who summed up the mood of this year's festival. After thanking the Rolling Stones, Scorsese and Kosslick, Wowereit said simply: "Let's Rock!"
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