Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) Schedules High Profile International Slate

FYI – This article first appeared on Technorati, December 30,2011:

We’re in non-stop film season and though most of us are prepping for the New Year, Sundance and in the middle of catching up with our Academy screeners, let’s pause for a moment to reflect on the line-up for the upcoming Berlinale taking place February 9-19, 2012 in Berlin, Germany.

The first films accepted into competition or special screenings at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival are a reflection of the increasingly diverse make-up of one of the world’s premiere festivals, and that is what compels me and almost 4,000 other journalists to take our yearly trek to Berlin in February. This festival is econd in size and scope only to Cannes and there are, once again, a few must-sees on the slate.

Produced in Indonesia, Spain, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong/China, the Phillipines, Great Britain, Germany, the USA and France, this year’s line-up looks to be very interesting indeed!

“Captive” (aka “Captured”) a World Premiere from Director Brillante Mendoza is based on the true story of a foreign aid worker taken hostage by a terrorist group and stars Isabelle Huppert, Katherine Mulville and Marc Zanetta. “Captive” is a co-production from France/Phillipines/Germany/Great Britain. Interesting note: This is the first time in almost 30 years that a Fillipino film is competing for the Gold and Silver Bear at the Berlinale.

“Dictado” (“Childish Games”) a World Premiere from Spanish director Antonio Chavarrias (Susanna, Volveras, Las vidas de Cella) stars Juan Diego Botto, Barbara Lennie, Magica Perez is a thriller about a little girl with a dark secret.

The USA weighs in with an International Premiere (out of competition) of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” A Warner Brothers Pictures production featuring an all-star cast with Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Max von Sydow. Thomas Horn plays a nine-year-old whose father dies at the World Trade Center on 9/11 leaving behind a mysterious key. The boy’s search for the matching lock takes him on a thrilling quest throughout New York. (Photos courtesy Warner Brothers.)

“Postcards from the Zoo” (“Kebun binatang)” directed by Edwin is a co-production of Indonesia/Germany/HongKong, China and was inspired by his love of giraffs.

Werner Herzog (“Cave of Forgotten Dreams”) returns to Germany’s premiere fest with “Death Row,” a documentary that will have its World Premiere at the Berlinale in 2012.

Farhan Akhtar (“Don”) brings his sequel Indian action adventure to the Berlinale with the India/German co-production, “Don-The King is Back,” (German premiere) starring Bollywood superstar, Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani, Om Puri and Florian Lukas.

“Keyhole” was produced in Canada, directed by Guy Maddin “(My Winnipeg”) and stars Jason Patric, Isabella Rossellini, Udo Kier and Brooke Palsson (International premiere). Buzz is high on this one even though reviews are mixed. “Keyhole” recently won the Borsos competition for best Canadian feature at the Toronto International Film Festival and is Canada’s entry into the current Academy Awards best foreign language film race. Oh, and should I mention that Isabella Rosselini is a prominent player at the Berlinale, even if she isn’t on this year’s jury panel?

“La chispa de la vida” is a Spanish film by Álex de la Iglesia (“El día de la bestia”) featuring Salma Hayek, José Mota, Fernando Tejero, Blanca Portillo, Juan Luis Galiardo (International premiere). See the trailer here:

Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King Of Scotland,” “Life In A Day,” “Touching The Void”) showcases “Marley” (as in Bob, not the dog) a documentary from Great Britain/USA (World Premiere). Looking forward to this one (especially for the sure-to-be revealing story of the man behind the music). Kevin, glad you wrestled this one from Jonathan Demme. Marley formed the Wailers 50 years ago and passed away 30 years ago but still holds a place in history as one of raggae’s greatest musicians.

For further information on the Berlinale taking place in Berlin, Germany from 9-19 February, 2012, , visit

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“The Flowers of War” (“Ji ling Shi Sa Chai”) by Zhang Yimou (“The Red Lantern) from the People’s Republic of China will have its international premiere (out of competition). Christian Bale, Ni Ni, and Atsuro Watabe star in this drama about an American posing as a priest during the Nanjing massacre of 1937.

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