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Culture

"Shoot Films, Not People"

The annual glitter at this year's Berlinale film festival may be overshadowed by a war on Iraq. At the pre-festival press conference this week, Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick called to "shoot films, not people".

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The Berlinale is expected to attract more than 100 000 visitors to Berlin

The possibility of a war in Iraq has already thrown a shadow over Germany's most glamourous culture highlight, the Berlinale film festival.

PK mit Berlinale-Chef Dieter Kosslick

It even influenced the selection of films for the annual festival competition, Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick(photo) said on Tuesday - in the case of a war the festival would focus on political films and would hold daily discussions. This year's motto "towards tolerance" did not just refer to the mixture of "intelligent entertainment film and challenging cinema", Kosslick said, but also showed that a competition with international artists could be a peaceful affair.

So far, however, this year's Berlinale is set to run as planned, and hopes to attract more than 100,000 visitors to Berlin's cinemas for ten days of the best and the newest in world cinema. 300 films will be on show, including 59 German productions, the highest number in the history of the festival. In addition, three German films will be running for the Golden Bear, the Berlinale film award, along with a further 19 movies.

Further highlights include a series of films starring legendary French actress Anouk Aimée, 26 world premiers, a selection of "artistically orientated contemporary film" – 52 films from 24 countries -, and a "lively overview of the results of world cinema in the past 12 months" featured in the Berlinale Panorama section: 17 films, 12 documentaries and 23 short films from 31 countries.

In addition, this year's Berlinale will have a strong focus on short film, with a new separate short film festival hosting 57 films with which the Berlinale hopes to direct the audience's attention to "a medium, in which newcomers can prove and distinguish themselves." And an international children's film festival will feature parallel to the Berlinale, the largest in the history of the Berlinale yet – a development which, according to Thomas Hailer, director of the children's festival, proves how "films all over the world are showing more and more respect to children."

Important for the film industry

But the main attraction to the Berlinale is due to be the entourage of stars in the German capital for the event. Although Berlin may lack the glamour and style of film festival hosts Venice and Cannes, the sheer volume of visitors makes it one of the most important venues for the film business in the world.

This year, numerous names from the film industry have announced their arrival in Berlin for the festival, including directors Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Michael Winterbottom and Oskar Roehler, and world famous actors Kevin Spacey, Macaulay Culkin, Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Cloony.

And the public will have the chance to get closer to the stars at the festival's new Berlinale Talent Campus, "a unique platform for aspiring young filmmakers from all over the world." Here, 500 young directors, producers and actors will sit down to topics concerning the making of a film with their more famous and experienced counterparts. The results will then subsequently be presented to the public.

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