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Emmerich to be Jury President of the Berlinale 2005

German director Roland Emmerich will be president of the International Jury of the Berlinale 2005. Emmerich’s international career began with the film Das Arche Noah Prinzip (The Noah’s Ark Principle) which screened at the Berlinale in 1984 and attracted worldwide attention. Hollywood discovered this great talent, who then went on to make Independence Day, Godzilla and The Patriot, all Oscar-crowned works. In 2004, with The Day After Tomorrow, Emmerich contributed to the ongoing debate on the climate catastrophe.

The first films for the Berlinale Competition are now certain. Including Régis Wargnier’s opening film Man to Man, eleven films have already been selected for the Competition of the 55th Berlin International Film Festival – and eight of them are world premieres.

In Gespenster (Ghosts), a German-French co-production, director Christian Petzold (Die innere Sicherheit /The State I Am In) recounts the story of the Frenchwoman Françoise whose daughter was abducted as a small child in Berlin. After years of uncertainty, she thinks she has finally found her daughter when she spots the vagrant young woman Nina (Julia Hummer).

Marc Rothemund’s Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl – Hope and Resistance) portrays the last six days in the life of the young woman who co-founded “The White Rose”, a resistance group, before she was executed by the Nazis in 1943. Julia Jentsch (Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei /The Edukators) plays the young student who refuses to abandon her convictions even when her life is at stake.

In Hannes Stöhr’s episodic comedy, One Day in Europe, which is set against the Champion League Finals, tourists in Moscow, Istanbul, Santiago de Compostela and Berlin fall prey to thieves. And so emotions boil over at all these locations. This German-Spanish co-production features Erdal Yildiz, Florian Lukas, Miguel Lira, Boris Arquier and others.

The French entries in the Competition include Le promeneur du Champ de Mars (The Walker of the Champ de Mars) by Robert Guédiguian and Les temps qui changent (Changing Times) by André Téchiné.

Based on Georges-Marc Benamou’s biography of the same name, Le Promeneur du Champ de Mars (The Walker of the Champ de Mars) depicts François Mitterrand’s last days in which he reveals intimate secrets and personal memories to his confidant, a young journalist. Michel Bouquet (Toto, the Hero) plays the former French President.

In Téchiné’s film, Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu are lovers who, after a separation of thirty years, meet again in Tangiers. Yet they still have a long ways to go to work out their feelings for each other.

American director Wes Anderson, who last participated in the Berlinale Competition with the grotesque family tale The Royal Tenenbaums, is to present The Life Aquatic, a zany underwater comedy about an eccentric family that is hunting down a deadly shark. Bill Murray, William Dafoe, Anjelica Huston and Owen Wilson co-star in the main roles.

In Asylum (USA/Ireland), director David Mackenzie takes a look at the profound self-destructiveness of an obsessive ‘amour fou’ in prudish Great Britain of the1950s: Natasha Richardson plays the wife of a psychiatrist who begins a passionate affair with one of her husband’s patients. Sir Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings) and Hugh Bonneville (Iris) also star in the film.

Mark Dornford-May has set his screen adaptation of Bizet’s opera “Carmen” – U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha (Carmen in Khayelitsha) – in a South-African township. The film has been made entirely in the country’s official language Xhosa. In this South-African directorial début, the title role is played by the international opera star Pauline Malefane, who is herself from Khayelitsha.

A different view of Africa is given by Hotel Rwanda, a British/ South-African/Italian co-production running as a European premiere hors concours in this section. Director Terry George tells the true story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle, nominated for a Golden Globe for this role) who during the civil war sheltered more than a thousand Tutsi refugees from the Hutu militia.

Gu Changwei, one of China’s most famous and successful cinematographers (Farewell, My Concubine), will give his directorial début at the Berlinale with Peacock, a world premiere. In it he portrays the daily life of a family in a small town in the province of Henan. The story begins in the 1970s, after the Cultural Revolution, and ends in 1984.


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