The 56th Berlin International Film Festival got underway on Feb. 9, with journalists, paparazzi, film producers and movie buffs beleaguering glitzy Potsdamer Platz in downtown Berlin. For 10 days, fans and film aficionados alike will rush for a glimpse of the action as some of cinema's biggest stars walk the red carpet.
There will be a lot to see, from Hollywood blockbusters to debuts from little-known artists. And the first of Europe's three major film festivals is bigger than ever with around 400 movies, 26 of which will compete for the Golden and Silver Bears.
But when the lights go off and the curtain opens in the cinemas around town, the audiences are likely to be in for some serious takes on reality as a much grimmer set of films premier compared to previous years. If last year focused on sex and sizzle, this year's festival will showcase more political fare.
Germany is also set to take center-stage with four contenders for awards: Oskar Roehler's "Elementary Particles," Matthias Glasner's "Free Will," Valkeska Grisebach's "Longing" and Hans-Christian Schmid's "Requiem."
DW-WORLD takes a look at some of the main trends and players at the Berlinale.