Political drama takes Berlinale by 'Storm'

Schmid's film well received at world premiere

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Film Review: Storm

BERLIN -- The 59th Berlinale has its first Golden Bear front-runner after audiences here greeted Hans-Christian Schmid's war crimes thriller "Storm" with thunderous applause at its world premiere.

The drama, which stars Kerry Fox as a prosecutor going after a Serbian war criminal and Anamaria Marinca ("4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days") as her reluctant star witness, was already on the short list of many Berlinale handicappers for its cast and subject matter.

Political dramas tend to do well in Berlin. The past seven Golden Bear winners have had strong political themes. Jasmila Zbanic's "Esma's Secret," which won in 2006, explored the same subject matter as "Storm" -- the aftermath of the war in Yugoslavia and the mass rape of Muslim women by Serbian soldiers.

The 2009 jury, headed by actress Tilda Swinton, is considered by many Berlinale observers to be one of the most political in years. That could bode well for Schmid, who won a Silver Bear for his last Berlinale entry, "Requiem," losing out to "Esma's Secret" for the top prize.

The Berlinale jury will pick the winner of the 2009 Golden Bear on Feb.15.