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Culture

Berlin Film Festival Set for Scandal

Will Smith and Keanu Reeves are expected to lend the 55th Berlin film festival star quality, organizers said, while sex as science and titillation is set to be one of the event's outstanding themes.

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February skies may be gloomy, but who sees them in a movie theater?

More than 350 films will be showing at the February 10-21 festival known as the Berlinale, including 21 productions competing for the prestigious Golden Bear award for best film.

Smith and Reeves are two of the big Hollywood names tentatively lined up to appear at the festival to sprinkle some stardust and promote their movies, which are rivals for best film. In "Hitch," Smith portrays a marriage broker with a gift for pairing ordinary Joes with extraordinarily beautiful women, while Reeves handles the descent into the hell of drug addiction in "Thumbsucker."

While Berlin makes no claim to influence the race for an Oscar and ranks just below Cannes and alongside Venice in terms of prestige, winning the Golden Bear can propel European and international films to success around the world. Last year's winner, the German film "Head On," about the

struggles of a Turkish couple in Germany, has gone on to collect a clutch of international awards and has even attracted interest in the United States.

Der Berlinale-Direktor Dieter Kosslick

Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick

"We don't want to be the hottest festival, but the most pleasant and the most friendly one," festival director Dieter Kosslick told a press conference. With Germany currently gripped by the scandal of a referee who has admitted fixing football matches, Kosslick tapped into the theme by claiming this year's festival would feature "football, sex and politics."

Kinsey and "Deep Throat"

The sex comes in the form of the US-German co-production "Kinsey," about the man regarded as the father of scientific research into human sexual behavior. Starring Liam Neeson and Laura Linney, "Kinsey" will be the last of the competition films shown. "Inside Deep Throat," meanwhile, supplies sex of a different kind, examining the cultural impact of the 1972 porn classic.

Soccer fans will doubtless enjoy the episodic "One Day in Europe," in which football fans in Russia, Turkey, Spain and Germany fall prey to thieves.

Plakat der Berlinale 2005 in Berlin mit Galeriebild

Berlinale begins on Feb. 10

The Berlinale will also maintain its customary special focus on African films. The US production "Sometimes in April," examining the 1984 genocide in Rwanda, is entered in the competition. Another film about that country's terrible civil war, "Hotel Rwanda," will have its European premiere as an out-of-competition picture. The barbarity inflicted on children kidnapped by rebels in the ongoing conflicts in Sudan and Uganda is put under the microscope in the documentary "Lost Children," as this category goes from strength to strength, organizers said.

Running alongside the showings, a film market will take place with organizers expecting 2,500 foreign representatives from the industry in the German capital.

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