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India figures in Berlin film fest

Movies by young directors from India will be showcased at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival opening next week.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 12:57 IST

Movies by young directors from India will be showcased at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival opening next week.

They will be part of a big contingent of entries from around the world and movies exploring the harder edge of modern life.

Many of the films to be shown at the Feb 9-19 festival were "very political and close to reality", said festival director Dieter Kosslick, releasing details of the programme for what is one of the world's top three movie festivals.

The fest, now in its 56th year, has never shied away from tackling controversial issues, with directors of the films included in this year's line-up taking a tough look at issues such as rape, war, political repression and sexuality.

As in previous years, the festival section celebrating new young directors called Forum includes a large number of films from Asia. The section's director, Christoph Terhechte, praised the originality of Asian cinema.

Apart from movies from South Korea, Japan and India, Forum includes two new films from Malaysia - The Last Communist by Amir Muhammad and "Monday Morning Glory" by Woo Ming Jin.

While Danish-born Pernille Fischer Christensen's En Soap tells the story of the tragi-comic relationship between the owner of a beauty clinic and a transsexual, the festival is to premiere Australia's Neil Armfield's Candy.

Starring Australian actor Heath Ledger, who has recently been carving out a successful career for himself in Hollywood, Candy tells the story of a young couple who sink deeper and deeper into the world of drugs.

British director Marc Evans'Snow Flake, a drama starring Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman about the friendship between an autistic woman and a man traumatized after a fatal car accident, is to open the Berlinale Feb 9.

As in the past the festival, also has a strong political component, including a film by directors Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross on the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Kosslick, who is now in his fifth year as festival chief, described the Winterbottom and Whitecross film as "a statement on human rights" by the directors with the Berlinale also celebrating the global movie trend towards blurring the techniques of documentary and feature film making.

Of the 26 movies competing for the festival's top Golden Bear Award this year 19 are world premieres.

Drawing some of the world's top stars, the festival offers a touch of glamour to the German capital as the cold grey winter months grind on.

This year's festival is rolling out the red carpet for stars and directors such as Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Isabelle Huppert, Robert Altman, Gael Garcia Bernal, Isabella Rosselini, Nicolas Tse, George Clooney and Tashi Chodon Gyari.

Coming against the backdrop of global tensions about Tehran's nuclear programme, among the line-up of films for this year's festival are a batch of movies from Iran, including two in the fest's main competition.

However, despite the frictions caused by Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the movies also tend to reflect the major theme of this year's festival and explore everyday life in Iran.

Films from the Middle East also have a strong presence in this year's programme with about six films from either the Arab world or Israel.

Since taking over director of the festival, Kosslick has also sought to promote European filmmakers, in particular from Germany.

And coming after what many critics believe to have been one of the best years for German cinema, a record of over 60 films from Germany have been entered across the festival's key competitions.

The Berlin organisers have also sought to showcase movies from the new emerging economies of Central and Eastern Europe with a raft of contributions from countries such as Poland, Romania and Russia included in each of the festival's programme.

Since the fall of communism across Central and Eastern Europe, the Berlin film festival has also sought to focus on films from Asia, with the main competition including for the first time in about 50 years a film from Thailand.

Thai director Ratanaruang Pen-ek's psychological thriller, Invisible Waves, is also one of the large group of Asian films to be shown in Berlin.

In addition, the main competition includes Isabella by one of Hong Kong's most promising young directors Pang Ho-cheung and Chen Kaige's martial arts adventure The Promise, said to be the most expensive Chinese movie ever made.

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 12:57 IST