Berlin Film Festival ranges from Clooney to China

This year’s Berlin International Film Festival brings together new movies from Wes Anderson and George Clooney with a long-in-the-making production from U.S. director Richard Linklater and a strong contingent of films from China. 

Organizers of the “Berlinale,” the first of the year’s major European film festivals, last week presented the lineup for the Feb. 6-16 event – its 64th edition. It centers on a main program of 23 movies, 20 of them running for the top Golden Bear award. 

Festival director Dieter Kosslick said the event has a program that “looks backward in various ways.” The event opens with director Anderson’s new movie, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” set at a European hotel in the 1920s and starring Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law and Edward Norton. 

It also features Clooney’s “The Monuments Men,” a drama starring Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray about a World War II platoon tasked with rescuing artworks from the Nazis, which is screening out of competition. 

Director-writer Linklater presents “Boyhood,” made over more than a decade and following a boy, played by Ellar Coltrane, to adulthood. It also stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. 

The midwinter Berlinale struggles to compete for glamour with France’s spring Cannes film festival and Italy’s summer film gathering at Venice, but it offers a wide global reach and often rewards relatively unheralded movies. Last year’s Golden Bear went to “Child’s Pose” from Romanian director Calin Peter Netzer. 

This year’s competition boasts three Chinese films set “outside the glamorous cities” and reflecting a wide variety of genres, Kosslick said. They are Diao Yinan’s “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” Lou Ye’s “Blind Massage” and “No Man’s Land” from director Ning Hao. 

Latin American competitors include “Praia do Futuro,” a gay love story set in Brazil and Germany. Peruvian-born director Claudia Llosa – whose “The Milk of Sorrow” won the Golden Bear in 2009 – returns with the drama “Aloft.” 

German offerings include “Stations of the Cross” by Dietrich Brueggemann, which tells the story of a girl living in an ultraconservative Catholic community. 

An eight-member jury led by “Brokeback Mountain” producer James Schamus will announce the winner of the Golden Bear and other awards on Feb. 15. The festival is also giving an honorary Golden Bear to British filmmaker Ken Loach. 


© 2014, Associated Press

Matt Damon and George Clooney star in ‘The Monuments Men.’