Berlinale becomes showcase for German film revival

Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:54am EST
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By Erik Kirschbaum BERLIN (Reuters) - German cinema was once the ugly duckling at the Berlin Film Festival -- only a handful of home-made films were grudgingly allowed in the program.

But the Berlinale has become a showcase for the German industry in the nine years since Dieter Kosslick took over from Moritz de Hadeln, a Swiss national who was loathed by German filmmakers for most of his 22-year reign.

Kosslick, an unabashed fan of German productions, had led the country's top film subsidy board and has now helped revive German cinema with his shameless cheerleading. It was a risky move for one of the world's top festivals.

Seven of the 26 films in this year's main selection were made by German filmmakers or with German money -- such as Roman Polanski's thriller "The Ghost Writer" about an ex British prime minister that was filmed in Berlin and the Babelsberg studio.

Other top films with German directing or financing include "The Robber" about an Austrian marathon runner who robs banks; "Jew Suss - Rise and Fall" about Nazi Joseph Goebbels; "Shahada" about Muslims in Germany and "The Hunter" set in Iran.

"It's become a tradition of ours to put German films back in the program," Kosslick told Reuters. "It's been great. German films have to be promoted. It's really paid off. It was a bit audacious at first. But it's no big deal anymore."

It has certainly been a big deal for German filmmakers, who had complained bitterly about past neglect. German films have won several Berlin Gold and Silver Bear awards since 2002.

"It's become a home for German films again," said Doris Doerrie, whose comedy "Die Friseuse" about an overweight hairdresser appeared in a sidebar competition and has drawn rave reviews. It was also sold to foreign territories.

"It's a great honor to have a film here again," added Doerrie. There are 80 German films of the 392 in the festival.   Continued...