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Alex Deleon is a festival ambassador with portal and
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The star-studded eight member international panel under the baton of celebrated Greco-French director Constantine Costa-Gavras was reduced to a Sextet when ace Danish director, Susan Bier, and top drawer French actress, Sandrine Bonnaire, both announced their enforced withdrawal from jury duty due to inescapable commitments elsewhere. In Bier's case it was a sudden need to visit the location of the next movie she’s shooting, while Bonnaire submitted her regrets due to "personal family reasons".  At this late date no suitable replacements can be found for the defectors, so the 58th Berlin jury will have to hobble along  on the six remaining pairs of legs which belong, respectively, to Costa-Gavras, German actress Diane Kruger, Taiwanese actress, Shu Qi, who is one of the biggest stars in Asia, multiple Academy Award winning sound designer, Walter Murch ("Apocalypse Now" among his many Coppola collaborations), hot-shot Russian producer, Alexander Rodnyansky,  and leading German production designer (i.e., art director), Uli Hanisch.

Forty years old, sensitive and intelligent, Sandrine Bonnaire is one of France’s most sought after actresses, especially by top directors for serious roles. She first came to international attention in Michel Deville’s “Mr. Hire” in which she befriended a serial killer, (Michel Blanc), and among her numerous international awards, she shared a Best actress prize at Venice with Isabelle Huppert for Chabrol’s shocker, “La Ceremonie”, in 1985. Sandrine has also directed a film, “Elle s'appelle Sabine” about her autistic sister, which is on view here in the Talent Campus section.  Susan Bier has directed twelve features in Denmark since 1991 but really scored internationally with her semi Dogma film, “Open Hearts”, 2002,  and her “After the Wedding” which traveled the festival circuit far and wide in 2006 and was a Best Foreign Language nominee at the last Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Svelte blonde German actress Diane Kruger comes from a background of ballet and modeling, but was an unknown until cast as Helen of Troy by Wolfgang Petersen in “Troy”, 2004, alongside Brad Pitt, after which she has worked steadily in Hollywood, currently opposite Nicolas Cage in “The National Treasure, Book of Secrets”.  She also turned in a more than credible job as Beethoven’s secretary opposite Ed Harris in Agnieszka Holland’s highly romanticized but irresistible Ludwig van biopic, “Copying Beethoven”, in 2006.

This year’s Berlin Jury chairman, Costa-Gavras, hardly needs any introduction having been a mainstay of politically engaged cinema ever since “The Sleeping Car Murders” of 1965.  Among the highlights of his career one can mention “Z”, the political thriller of 1969 about the Greek Military Junta, which was perhaps Yve Montand’s most significant role ever, winning two Oscars, and “Missing”, 1982, about the Pinochet takeover in Chile, which won a Golden Palm (best picture) at Cannes and earned Jack Lemmon a Cannes best actor distinction as well. In 1990 Gavras took a Golden Bear, top film prize, home from Berlin for “Music Box”, a Holocaust investigation tale in which a lawyer, Jessica Lange, defends her own father, Armin Mueller-Stahl, accused of being a notorious war criminal, and finds out things she would rather not have known.  


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THE FESTIVALS BLOG by Alex Deleon. Watch for festival coverage from the circuit.

Ambiance and reviews from the hot spots. Welcoming your comments too.

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