Berlin International Film festival: First Competition films confirmed

MUMBAI: The 58th BIFF, which is scheduled to kick off on 7 February 2008, has so far confirmed eight titles for the competition segment. These eight films are from China, Brazil, Mexico, Great Britain, USA, Poland and Germany.

In her most recent film, Kirschblüten – Hanami (Germany), Doris Dörrie (Men; The Fisherman and his Wife) tells the story of Rudi (Elmar Wepper), who is incurably ill with cancer. When his fun-loving but esoteric wife (Hannelore Elsner) unexpectedly dies, the widower comes to see her life with new eyes (World premiere).

There Will Be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, Golden Bear 2000) is from the USA. The film adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil recounts the remarkable story of an unsuccessful silver miner who rises to become a US oil magnate in the early 20th century. Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs Of New York) is brilliant in his performance as the protagonist Daniel Plainview (International premiere).

Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai (Beijing Bicycle, Silver Bear 2001) will present Zuo You (In Love We Trust) in the Berlinale Competition. In her struggle to save her firstborn, the mother of a child suffering from cancer resorts to unusual measures. Liu Weiwei, Zhang Jiayu and Yu Nan play the leading roles (World premiere).

Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke took part in the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2003. This time he is returning to Berlin with his second feature film, Lake Tahoe. The story centres around a sixteen-year-old boy who has to cope with his father’s sudden death. The film features Diego Cata?o, Héctor Herrera, Daniela Valentine, Juan Carlos Lara and Yemil Sefani (World premiere).

Gardens of the Night (Great Britain/USA) by Damian Harris tells of the fate of two children who are abducted and held captive for over nine years. Once free, they are forced to take to the streets and fend for themselves. The cast include Gillian Jacobs, Evan Ross, Tom Arnold and John Malkovich. (World premiere)

Oscar-winner Andrzej Wajda -- a three-time participant in the Berlinale Competition and recipient of the Honorary Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement in 2006 -- will be presenting his latest work Katy. The film examines a taboo theme: the massacre of thousands of Polish war prisoners by the Soviet secret service in 1940. In the main roles are Maja Ostaszewska, Artur Zmijewski and Andrzej Chyra. (International premiere)

In Brazil, Tropa de Elite (The Elite Squad) has broken all box-office records. The Berlinale 2008 will screen this political thriller in the Competition. Director José Padilha (Bus 174) explores the detrimental influence of the drug mafia on the poorest sections of the Brazilian population, thereby revealing the daily routines of a brutal and corrupt special unit of the Brazilian military police. The film stars Wagner Moura, Caio Junqueira and André Ramiro (International premiere).

In S.O.P. Standard Operating Procedure (USA), famous documentary filmmaker and Oscar-winner Errol Morris (The Fog of War, 2003) investigates the scandalous human rights violations at the Abu Ghraib prison complex near Baghdad and investigates what lurks behind the facade of the “anti-terror war” (World premiere).

The selection for the Competition programme of the 58th Berlin International Film Festival will be completed by mid-January 2008.

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