Berlin sidebar won't shy away from politics


Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, who won a Silver Bear in 2006 for their docudrama "The Road to Guantanamo," are returning to the Berlin International Film Festival with another piece of agitprop, "The Shock Doctrine."

Based on a book by Naomi Klein, the film examines the darkest sides of neoliberalism, from privatization of public goods to the upheaval of societies, and will screen as a work in progress in Berlin's Panorama Dokumente section.

Politics is never far away at the Berlinale, and the 2009 Panorama reflects that. The sidebar will feature documentaries including Philippe Lioret's "Welcome," which revolves around Iraqi refugees in Europe, and dramas like Michael Glawogger's "Kill Daddy Good Night," which shows how the Holocaust continues to affect lives.

To celebrate Panorama's 30th anniversary, programmers will screen highlights from the past three decades. (partialdiff)

and new films from famous names who got their start here.

Gus Van Sant, whose directorial debut "Mala Noche" premiered in the 1986 Panorama, returns with his Oscar favorite "Milk." He will be joined by Rob Epstein, whose 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" will receive a special screening.

Other familiar faces returning this year include Lioret and Catherine Breillat, whose "La Barbe bleue" is her take on the Bluebeard tale.

The sidebar also will celebrate British actor John Hurt and gay icon Quentin Crisp with three films. In Richard Laxton's "An Englishman in New York," Hurt plays an elderly Crisp, updating his role as the young man in Jack Gold's 1975 telefilm "The Naked Civil Servant." Panorama also will screen Jonathan Nossiter's Crisp biopic "Resident Alien," which premiered in Berlin in 1991. (partialdiff)