Polanski film in competition at Berlin festival

Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:42am EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Director Roman Polanski's new movie "The Ghost Writer" will be in competition at the Berlin film festival in February, organizers said on Tuesday. The French-born Oscar winner is under house arrest in Switzerland after he was held in September to face charges of having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in the United States in 1977.

Polanski, 76, had been putting the finishing touches to The Ghost Writer when he was arrested in Zurich. His arrest and detention means he is unlikely to be able to travel to Berlin for the red carpet world premiere.

The film, starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor, is about a former British prime minister producing a memoir with a ghostwriter, and the intrigues that arise involving the politician's wife, his aide and secrets from his past.

Also launching in Berlin, although outside the main competition, is Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island," featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley.

Organizers will be hoping that the mixture of notoriety and star power of the early movies announced will help Berlin recover from a poor critical reception in recent years.

The annual cinema showcase, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2010, is widely seen as lagging behind its two big European rivals, Venice and Cannes.

Also announced on Tuesday were Turkish entry "Bal" (Honey), Austria's "Der Rauber" (The Robber), India's "My Name is Khan" starring Shah Rukh Khan, Bosnia's "Na Putu" (On the Path) and German-Iranian production "Shekarchi" (The Hunter).

The remainder of the 26 movies in the competition section of the festival will be announced in January.

(Writing by Mike Collett-White)

<p>Director Roman Polanski reacts during a news conference to present his musical 'Tanz der Vampire' ('Dance of the Vampires') in Oberhausen September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender</p>