Berlin film festival aims for cutting edge in 2012

Wed Feb 8, 2012 8:51am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Berlin film festival, which last year set Iranian drama "A Separation" on the path to global fame, has selected an edgier line-up than normal in 2012 with several up-and-coming directors in the main competition.

The risk of showcasing unproven talent this year would be worth it if it helped Berlin shake off a reputation for being more conservative in its programming than rival film festivals, critics said.

The annual cinema showcase, during which hundreds of features, shorts and documentaries screen in theatres across the city, opens on Thursday with the world premiere of "Farewell My Queen" starring Diane Kruger as Marie Antoinette.

"It is interesting that there seem to be more young directors who are only presenting their second works," said Variety film critic Jay Weissberg, a Berlin veteran. "It could mean that Berlin may be trying to be more cutting edge."

That said, he described the choice of films in competition and various smaller sidebar events this year as "underwhelming" overall, although the movies themselves may prove to be better than they appeared on paper.

Berlin organizers led by festival director Dieter Kosslick will be happy if this year's festival can uncover another "hidden" gem of world cinema after it awarded A Separation the Golden Bear for best picture in 2011.

The media attention that came with it launched the searing commentary on modern Iranian life on a path to international recognition including a Golden Globe and two Oscar nominations.

Underlining Berlin's global reach, the Golden Bear went to Turkish film "Honey" in 2010, Peru's "The Milk of Sorrow" in 2009, Brazil's "The Elite Squad" in 2008, China's "Tuya's Marriage" in 2007 and Bosnia's "Grbavica" in 2006.   Continued...

<p>Members of the jury (L to R) Dutch photographer, designer and filmmaker Anton Corbijn U.S. acctor Jake Gyllenhaal, German actress and singer Barbara Sukowa, british film director and jury president Mike Leigh, French-British actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, French director and writer Francois Ozon, Algerian author Boualem Sansal and Iranian director and writer Asghar Farhadi pose during a photocall prior to the upcoming 62nd Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 8, 2012. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen</p>