The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Berlin film festival to get serious with a dash of sauce

Berlin, Jan. 17 (Reuters): The Berlin Film Festival will grapple with the serious theme of the world’s refugees this year, but hopes that more stars will turn up to add glamour to the event.

The Berlinale is one of Europe’s top three film festivals. Director Dieter Kosslick said he hoped to strike a balance between entertainment and political awareness in the 10-day festival which opens on February 6 on the theme “Towards Tolerance”.

“We recognise that the problem of refugees is becoming worse. It’s a theme worldwide and is reflected in film and it will feature prominently here,” Kosslick said in an interview today. The festival has already announced that 19 movies will compete for the coveted Golden Bear, including the German film Distant Lights set on the German-Polish border, Slovenian entry Spare Parts about human trafficking and Senegal’s Madame Brouette about the struggle of a single mother.

Steven Soderberg’s Solaris, Spike Lee’s The 25th Hour, Spike Jonze’s Adaptation and Stephen Daldry’s The Hours are among the others in competition.

Around 400 films will be sandwiched between the opener Chicago and the finale, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, both of which have bigger budgets than last year’s pairing.

“On the one side, we are showing intelligent entertainment. On the other, it’s a politically engaged programme, including looking at refugees worldwide, people who live in difficult social situations,” said Kosslick, in his second year in the job. Berlin ranks behind Cannes and alongside Venice among Europe’s film festivals. Kosslick promised the competition would attract a galaxy of stars, something critics say it lacked last year.

“The potential is that every film playing will bring their lead roles, but I’ve learned you must be very cautious when talking about who will come,” he said.

“You can say they’re here, when they’re on the red carpet, but not before. However, I can say that it will be full of stars.”

Kosslick’s potential guests includes Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep in Adaptation, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman in The Hours and George Clooney for his role as an actor in Solaris and as director of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

Edward Norton will feature in The 25th Hour, Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet in the joint British-American production The Life of David Gale.

The French film Petites Coupures pairs Daniel Auteuil and Kristin Scott Thomas. Kosslick is an unabashed fan of German productions but plans to give less emphasis to home-made films than last year when four were in the competition. In the past German filmmakers have complained about being left out in the cold.

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