German feast for Berlin sidebar

Fest to premiere restored color 'Hamlet' from 1920s

There might be fewer German titles in competition this year at the Berlin International Film Festival, but the festival's Forum sidebar is more than making up for that.

The Forum lineup, announced Wednesday, features nine German-language features, in- cluding "Madonnas," the sophomore effort from Maria Speth ("The Days Between") that features 2006 Silver Bear winner Sandra Hueller ("Requiem").

Also from Germany is the family drama "Hounds," from first-timer Ann-Kristin Reyels, and Angela Schanelic's "Afternoon," a retelling of Anton Chekhov's "The Sea Gull" set in modern-day Potsdam and Berlin.

Outside the sidebar, a rediscovered and now restored color version of "Hamlet" (1920-21) featuring silent film diva Asta Nielsen as a cross-dressing prince of Denmark will have its world premiere at the festival Feb. 10.

Several black-and-white copies of the film exist, but the full-color version hasn't been shown since the movie's initial release. The film features a new score from composer Michael Riessler.

In this year's Forum, Berlin-based artist Philip Scheffner will be represented with "The Halfmoon Files," a look at the history of colonialism through the use of historic sound documents.

From Austria, the Forum has picked "It Happened Just Before," a documentary-style drama from Anja Salomonowitz; "Schindler's Houses" from Heinz Emingholz, which chronicles the work of architect Rudolph Schindler in Los Angeles; and "The Prater," Ulrike Ottinger's portrait of Vienna's legendary fun fair with its iconic giant Ferris wheel.

Two films from German-speaking Switzerland also are in this year's Forum lineup: Thomas Imbach's underwater fairytale "I Was a Swiss Banker" and Stefan Schwietert's portrayal of three traditional Swiss musicians, "Heimatklaenge."

But the Berlinale Forum is hardly restricting itself to German-language cinema. This year's Forum includes pictures from India — Farhan Akhtar's updated version of the classic Bollywood gangster film "Don" — to the U.S., with Frederick Weisman's 31/2-hour documentary examination of democracy in Idaho: "State Legislature."

Other Forum titles include the debut feature "Elvis Pelvis," a father-and-son tale from director Kevin Aduaka; "Dol," a sarcastic drama from Iraqi Kurd helmer Hiner Saleem; and "Shotgun Stories," from Jeff Nichols, which tells the story of two feuding brothers in the southern U.S.

A complete list of films running in the 37th Berlinale Forum can be found at