Berlin film festival opens with "True Grit"
By Mike Collett-White
BERLIN (Reuters) - The 2011 Berlin film festival opens on Thursday with Oscars darling "True Grit" kicking off the 10-day cinema showcase, where hundreds of movies vie for the attention of the world's media and industry buyers.
The Coen brothers' Western remake is already out in North America and so is not eligible for prizes at the closing ceremony on February 19, but it should ensure Hollywood glamour on the red carpet at Berlin's glitzy opening ceremony.
The story of a young girl's quest to track down her father's killer, starring Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, has garnered 10 Academy Award nominations, second only to "The King's Speech."
The 61st Berlin festival boasts its trademark mix of familiar faces and up-and-coming film makers, and, as usual, real world concerns are never far from the surface.
The spotlight on Thursday is likely to fall on the absent Jafar Panahi, the Iranian director who was invited to be on the jury but who was sentenced in December to six years in prison.
Panahi, whose film "Offside" won the festival's Silver Bear award in 2006, has been banned from making films or traveling abroad for 20 years.
"His conviction violates the right to freedom of expression and the freedom of art," the festival said. Five of his films, including Offside, will be screened during the event.
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