Berlinale a mix of power, politics


The Berlinale has unveiled the first wave of films in its official selection for 2009, and the lineup features Berlin's favored mix of politics, stars and the occasional surprise.

Politics come in the form of Rachid Bouchareb's "London River," the follow-up to the French director's Oscar-nominated "Days of Glory" (2006), which follows strangers looking for their missing children in the aftermath of the 2005 terrorist attacks in London.

The aftermath of war also is the subtext in two out-of-competition titles: Theo Angelopoulos' "The Dust of Time," which traces the personal impact of upheavals from World War II to Vietnam and the Cold War, and Stephen Daldry's "The Reader," set in post-WWII Germany and starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes.

The first two all-out Hollywood entries in Berlin's lineup are Tom Tykwer's opening-night action film "The International," starring Naomi Watts and Clive Owen, and "The Pink Panther 2," again headed by Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau. Both will run out of competition.

The remaining Berlinale titles are expected to be announced by mid-January. The 59th Berlinale is set for Feb. 5-9. (partialdiff)