Stones throw it open


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BERLIN -- The Berlin International Film Festival rolled with the Stones on Thursday as the 58th edition exploded amid unprecedented scenes of fan jostling, flash bulbs popping and the sight of Mick, Keef, Charlie and Ronnie hitting the red carpet in the company of Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese.

Scorsese brought his Rolling Stones rock documentary "Shine a Light" for an out of competition slot, kick-starting the German shindig with some good old fashioned rock 'n' roll.

Having the world's most famous rockers in town -- along with Scorsese -- put the festival organizers' famous efficiency and poise to the test as Berlin was nearly overwhelmed with hordes of journalists, fans and combinations of the two.

Masses of Stones fans braved the Berlin cold to crowd the red carpet outside the Berlinale Palast, hours before the film's evening gala.

"We've been here four hours and will be here another four before they come, but we don't care," said Helena Zorita as she huddled together with classmates, who are in Berlin from Barcelona on a school exchange. "We all know the Rolling Stones from our parents and we all love the music. We'll wait right here until we see them."

Uli Schroder has seen the Stones before. Covered in Stones pins and paraphernalia, Schroder traveled to Berlin from Hamburg especially for the event.

"I got here at 8 a.m., to make sure I was first in line," Schroder said. "I've been a Stones fan since the beginning. I saw my first concert in 1965, and I've been to 160 gigs since then."

The huge interest generated by the world premiere of Scorsese's film, which is certainly more rock than doc, seemed to catch festival organizers by surprise. The news conference room filled up to overflowing minutes after the first screening.

Organizers sealed off the room about 50 minutes before the scheduled arrival of the band, affectionately referred to as the strolling bones by some fans. About 200 journalists from around the world were left stranded outside the room, with festival officials only able to offer live Web streaming of the conference to those who missed the cut.

There was another unsurprising surprise: The band and Scorsese were late for their own stunt. But when they did turn up, they dived straight in with questions.

Having been introduced by organizers as Martin Scorsese and the Rolling Stones, Jagger strode onto the stage ahead of his bandmates and the director and thanked Berlin International Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick for inviting "Light" to open the event.

"I understand this is the first time that a documentary concert film like this has ever opened a festival and so we are very honored that such a thing could happen to our movie," Jagger said. He then asked "Marty" to say a couple of words.

Scorsese said it was the first time he had been in Berlin in person since 1981, when he brought "Raging Bull" to open the festival.

With a twinkle in his eye, Scorsese said that he wanted to shoot a film about a Stones performance because for years the music had been a source of inspiration for his filmmaking.

Jagger joked that "Light" was the only Scorsese movie that didn't have the song "Gimme Shelter."

Richards said he barely noticed the huge numbers of cameras, adding that it was a good thing "I didn't trip over one."

All agreed that Scorsese had "captured" the essence of a Stones live performance, but for the filmmaker himself, he confessed to the crowd that it might perhaps be impossible for film to fully reflect the excitement of a live musical event.

"We tried to get as close as possible to a live concert, the energy of a live concert. That is why the camera placement was so important," Scorsese said.