Berlinale loses two jurors


Complete Berlinale coverage

UPDATED 3:42 p.m. CET Feb. 7

BERLIN -- The Berlin International Film Festival competition jury was decimated by two late cancellations Thursday, when French actress Sandrine Bonnaire and Danish director Susanne Bier were forced to pull out.

Festival chief Dieter Kosslick announced the no-shows at a morning news conference for the remaining panel members, explaining that Bonnaire's withdrawal was for "very personal reasons" and that Bier had commitments to her next film that she couldn't duck out of.

"Unfortunately, we lost these two very prestigious jury members, but we thought we could work with the six remaining members. You can't always get what you want," said Kosslick, in a nod toward Thursday's appearance by the Rolling Stones.

The full Berlinale jury lineup was announced only eight days ago.

The festival office said Bier was leaving for the U.S. immediately in relation to her next film.

"An unforeseen occurrence demanded my immediate professional presence elsewhere," Bier said in a statement. "For that reason, I was unfortunately not able to perform the task of a jury member. I am very sad about this."

Bier is slated to direct "Lost for Words" for Working Title. The film centers on a movie star lothario who finds himself falling in love with a beautiful Chinese actress and her female translator. The project has not been cast and has a March start date.

For her part, Bonnaire said: "For me it was a great honor to have been appointed to the Berlinale jury, and I was looking forward to enjoying the 10-day cinematic journey. However, for family reasons, I've been forced to cancel and ask everyone involved for their understanding."

The actress said she will do what she can to hold her scheduled lecture on acting techniques Wednesday as part of the Berlinale Talent Campus.

"An accident happened. We have to live with it. There was no question of replacing them," jury president Costa-Gavras told the news conference, flanked by surviving jurors including Oscar-winning editor and sound designer Walter Murch, Russian producer Alexander Rodnyansky, German actress Diane Kruger and German production designer Uli Hanisch.

Taiwanese actress Shu Qi was the focus of much of the attention during the conference. Asked whether she would be taking on Bai Ling's mantle as this year's "sexy highlight" -- in reference to the Chinese actress' memorably revealing red carpet appearances here in 2005 -- Shu replied: "I'm here to work as a member of the jury. It's serious work that one must do conscientiously."