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Culture

Berlinale Log: More Stars, Less Show

British director Michael Winterbottom would like to change the world, and action hero Jackie Chan is shocked by the secrets in his family - day two at the Berlinale film festival.

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In his new film, Jackie Chan looks back on the past

Berlinale Palace Cinema, 8.30 a.m.: Day two in this year's Berlinale film festival, and already some journalists seem to be falling asleep. Bored already? Surely not. But it was an early start for the press this morning, with the first screening at 9 a.m., and the fight for the best seats starting long before.

Michael Winterbottom In this World

The day began with British director Michael Winterbottom's compelling new feature, "In This World." The contrast to yesterday's "Chicago" couldn't have been greater: A tale of two Afghan cousins, who flee from a refugee camp in Pakistan seeking a brighter future in London, "In This World" is a film full of striking, yet disturbing images, of wide, dusty landscapes, of a journey so arduous and threatening that one is constantly aware of the desperation that lies behind it. Based on hundreds of first-hand accounts, the film covers the danger of the young men's trek through the icy snow on Turkey's border, their three-day confinement in a container on board a ship to Italy and their many encounters with both friends and foes on their dangerous trek. Such is the intimacy of Winterbottom's digital video production that the atmosphere at Berlinale Palace could have been cut with a knife. Once the credits were over many in the audience remained seated.

Hotel Grand Hyatt, 10.45 a.m.: Journalists, still with a stunned look on their faces, file into the press room. Michael Winterbottom (photo) looks in his brown tracksuit jacket surprisingly young, with an air about him which seems to contradict the seriousness of his film.

Michael Winterbottom

The Q&A press conference game is soon replaced by a string of anecdotes told by Winterbottom and his colleagues, such as the Iranian guard who only let the film team shoot at a border control if he was given a role in the film. Indeed, that is exactly how things turned out, Winterbottom recalls. What started off as fiction soon became fact: Following the film, main character Jamal made the same trip to Britain on his own - with limited success. He is allowed to stay in the country until he is eighteen. Looking a little proud, Winterbottom says "Jamal now goes to school and is top of his class."

With his film, Winterbottom says he wanted to give at least two people a new start in life and that he hoped that people would imagine what such a trek was like and would "sympathize with asylum seekers." Grinning, he adds "obviously I would like to change the world." 11.45 a.m.: Migration as a theme dominated day two at the Berlinale, with Hong Kong powerhouse Jackie Chan's" The Traces of the Dragon" showing at a nearby cinema. No, not another Hollywood blockbuster starring one of the world's favorite action heroes. This documentary reveals some dark secrets in Chan's own family. Secrets, he says, which "shocked" him, including his father's hidden past as a former spy. Asked why he didn't direct the film himself, Chan, who looks somewhat frail in a black suit and rather long, unkempt hair, grins and replies "when I am 60 I can do that - right now I want to act." Later, Chan says it is a film for his European viewers, who prefer Asian style to Hollywood.

Lucy Liu Schauspielerin

Regarding the number of press members, who slowly start filing out of the room, this may seem a little questionable. And Lucy Liu's (photo) appearance in Thursday's screening of "Chicago" certainly made more hearts flutter than Chan's on Friday.