Laughs, love to lighten serious cinema in Berlin

Tue Feb 3, 2009 8:56am EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - "The International," the opening movie at the Berlin film festival this year, is a thriller starring Clive Owen that tackles dubious banking practices, terrorist funding and the impact of globalization.

Europe's first big film festival of the year tackles many burning issues from the real world, underlining its reputation as a showcase for hard-hitting, topical cinema that does not always set the box office alight.

But the 2009 edition, which kicks off on Thursday, also has its fair share of comedy with Hollywood crime caper "Pink Panther 2," starring Steve Martin as the hapless Inspector Clouseau, having its international premiere in the German city.

The last-minute addition of 1950s comedy "My One and Only," featuring Oscar winner Renee Zellweger, will also turn up the star power on the red carpet, ensuring Berlin the kind of media exposure a film festival needs to thrive.

"A lot of people are going to the cinema to escape," festival director Dieter Kosslick said recently.

"People are sick and tired of the word 'crisis' and they're glad to escape into a darkened cinema for two hours to forget their troubles. Cinema is a great thing in times like these."

As well as laughs there is plenty of love, with 1920s romance "Cheri" reuniting director Stephen Frears with actress Michelle Pfeiffer more than 20 years after their collaboration on "Dangerous Liaisons."

"Love is a great topic when there's no more money," Kosslick added.


<p>People line up to buy tickets for the upcoming 59th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 2, 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>