Berlin Fest features 'Debaters'


Denzel Washington's drama "The Great Debaters" has been invited to next month's Berlin Film Festival as a featured presentation. The Weinstein Co./MGM film, a late entry to the fest, stars helmer Washington as a 30s-era English professor and poet who inspires his African-American debating team.

The Berlin spot marks the latest in a string of good luck for the film from Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Prods. It led the pack with eight nominations at the 39th NAACP Image Awards announced Tuesday, and is nominated for best drama at this weekend's Golden Globes.

The latter honor helped "Debaters" earn a fourth-place spot in the open Oscar race for best picture from Wynn Las Vegas director of race and sports book operations Johnny Avello.

It has an 8-1 shot, says Avello, after "No Country for Old Men" at 5-2, "Atonement" at 3-1 and "American Gangster" at 6-1.