Berlin jury prez hopes '10 is a good vintage

Werner Herzog leads jury that includes Renee Zellweger

BERLIN -- Werner Herzog admits he doesn't have any magic formula for judging the competition films of the 60th Berlin International Film Festival but "if a really great film emerges, we'll recognize it," the president of this year's international jury said at a press conference Thursday. "Of course, we don't know yet how good this year's vintage will be." 

Herzog and the other members of the jury -- actresses Renee Zellweger, Yu Nan and Cornelia Froboess, Spanish producer Jose Maria Morales, Italian director Francesca Comencini and Somalian writer Nuruddie Farah -- were careful not to tip their hands by expressing any preference ahead of the Berlinale, which kicked off Thursday night with the competition bow of Wang Quan'an's "Apart Together." 

Herzog, however, did stress the importance of the Berlinale as a "platform for young filmmakers"  noting the Golden Bear last year for "The Milk of Sorrow"  from Peruvian first-timer Claudia Llosa "had resonance far beyond Berlin."

The feature has since been nominated for an Oscar as best foreign-language film.

More Berlin coverage  

The veteran German filmmaker also played down a complaint from one journalist that too few independent films of the kind shown at the Berlin Fest get theatrical distribution.

"If you make a good film it can have a long life," Herzog said. "When my film 'Aguirre: The Wrath of God' (1972) came out, no one wanted to see it. Then years later, in France, two cinemas started screening it again. It ran for 2 years in sold-out shows. 

For her part, Renee Zellweger said she was "thrilled  to be back at the Berlinale, where she presented such films as "Chicago"  and "Cold Mountain"  and said she was looking forward to discovering some "small gems  in this year's lineup."

"And on a more selfish note, any excuse to come back and play in Berlin is a good one," Zellweger said.