Banking thriller opens Berlin film festival

Wed Feb 4, 2009 6:20pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Berlin film festival opens on Thursday with "The International," a thriller starring Clive Owen as an Interpol agent investigating the dubious practices of one of the world's most powerful banks.

Festival director Dieter Kosslick has said that the choice of opening movie was fortuitous, given the global banking crisis gripping the Western world.

"If we had showed this film six months ago, a lot of people wouldn't have believed it," he said recently. "But now it might come across to some as a sort of documentary film."

The International, directed by Tom Tykwer, kicks off 11 days of screenings, red carpet glamour, celebrity spotting and publicity in Berlin, the first of the three big European film festivals each year. The others are Cannes and Venice.

The German city has earned a reputation for tough, hard-hitting cinema, and 2009 will be no exception.

In the main competition "Storm" examines the legacy of war in former Yugoslavia while "Mammoth" tackles issues of globalization and economic migrants.

Director Rachid Bouchareb, who made the critically acclaimed war drama "Days of Glory," brings "London River," about two people in London trying to find their children who go missing after the public transport bombings of July 7, 2005.