French, Asian cinema return to Berlin competition


COLOGNE, Germany -- French and Asian cinema are back with a vengeance at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, with four French and four Asian films selected for the festival's official competition lineup.

Francois Ozon's "Angel," about the rise and fall of a young author in early 20th century England, will close the 57th Berlinale, providing a suitable bookend to an event that kicks off Feb. 8 with the world premiere of "La vie en Rose," from another French director, Olivier Dahan.

The other French films in competition -- Andre Techine's "The Witness" and Jacques Rivette's "Don't Touch The Axe" -- also will have their world premieres in Berlin.

Asian cinema, which was largely absent from last year's lineup, returns in force with two Chinese productions -- Wang Quan'an drama "Tuya's Marriage" and Li Yu's urban portrait "Lost In Beijing" -- and two from Korea -- Zhang Lu's "Desert Dream," about a refugee from North Korea who flees to a barren village on the Chinese/Mongolian border, and "I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK," the highly-anticipated new drama from Park Chan-wook ("Oldboy").

This year's Berlinale lineup ranges from such independent productions as Ryan Eslinger's "When a Man Falls in the Forest" to Zack Snyder's epic "300," an adaptation of the Frank Miller comic book about the battle of Thermopylae between 300 Spartans and a Persian army numbering in the millions. Both films will have their world premieres in Berlin, with "300" unspooling out of competition.

Two U.K. productions selected for this year's competition include Richard Eyre's "Notes on a Scandal" and David Mackenzie's "Hallam Foe." Starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal" is a psychological drama based on the novel by Zoe Heller. "Hallam Foe," which will premiere in Berlin, stars Jamie Bell as a young man living in the Scottish Highlands, whose life falls apart after the death of his mother.

Argentine director Ariel Rotter, last seen in Berlin with 2001's "Solo por hoy," returns with "El otro" while Brazilian helmer Cao Hamburger made the cut with his feature film debut "The Year My Parents Went On Holiday," a look at a boy in 1970s Brazil whose parents are taken away by the country's military dictatorship.

Also selected for this year's Berlin competition is "Beaufort," by Israeli director Joseph Cedar ("Campfire"), about the last military unit to be stationed in southern Lebanon before Israeli troops were withdrawn from the country.

Of the 26 films in this year's competition lineup, 19 are world premieres, with six international premieres.

The full competition lineup for the 57th annual Berlin International Film Festival follows:

"300" by Zack Snyder, U.S. (World Premiere, Out of Competition)

"Angel" by Francois Ozon, France/Belgium/U.K. (World Premiere)/Closing Film

"Beaufort" by Joseph Cedar, Israel (World Premiere)

"Bordertown" by Gregory Nava, U.S. (World Premiere)

"Desert Dream" (Hyazgar) by Zhang Lu, Republic of Korea/France (World Premiere)

"Don't Touch The Axe" (Ne touchez pas la hache) by Jacques Rivette, France/Italy (World Premiere)

"Goodbye Bafana" by Bille August, Germany/France/Belgium/U.K./Italy (World Premiere)

"Hallam Foe" by David Mackenzie, U.K. (World Premiere)

"I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK" (Sai bo gu ji man gwen chan a) by Park Chan-wook, Republic of Korea (International Premiere)

"In Memory of Myself" (In memoria di me) by Saverio Costanzo, Italy (World Premiere)

"Irina Palm" by Sam Garbarski, Belgium/Germany/Luxembourg/U.K./France (World Premiere)

"I Served The King Of England" (Obsluhoval jsem anglickeho krale) by Jiri Menzel, Czech Republic / Slovakia (International Premiere)

"La Vie en Rose" by Olivier Dahan, France/U.K./Czech Republic (World Premiere)/Opening Film

"Letters From Iwo Jima" by Clint Eastwood, U.S. (European Premiere, Out of Competition)

"Lost In Beijing" (Ping guo) by Li Yu, China (World Premiere)

"Notes On A Scandal" by Richard Eyre, U.K. (International Premiere, Out of Competition)

"The Counterfeiters" (Die Faelscher) by Stefan Ruzowitzky, Germany/Austria (World Premiere)

"The Good German" by Stephen Soderbergh, U.S. (International Premiere)

"The Good Shepherd" by Robert de Niro, U.S. (International Premiere)

"The Other" (El otro) by Ariel Rotter, Argentina/France/Germany (World Premiere)

"The Walker" by Paul Schrader, U.S./U.K. (World Premiere, Out of Competition)

"The Witnesses" (Les Temoins) by Andre Techine, France (World Premiere)

"The Year My Parents Went On Vacation" (O ano em que meus pais sairam de ferias) by Cao Hamburger, Brazil / Argentina (International Premiere)

"Tuya's Marriage" (Tu ya de hun shi) by Wang Quan'an, China (World Premiere)

"When A Man Falls In The Forest" by Ryan Eslinger, Canada/U.S. (World Premiere)

"Yella" by Christian Petzold, Germany (World Premiere)