Sometimes life doesn't play out as scripted. Yet the Berlin Film Festival seemed ready to roll with two last-minute changes to its jury line-up.
The 10-day film festival, one of the most prestigious in the world, begins on Thursday, Feb. 7 with a gala opening featuring Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert movie.
Berlinale organizers said Danish-born director Susanne Bier and French actress Sandrine Bonnaire had announced at the last moment that they won't be able to participate. Instead of replacing them, the jury, headed by renowned Greek-born director Costa-Gavras, will shrink from eight to six.
Change of plans
Bier said she had her bags packed for Berlin when she realized she had to go to the United States instead, due to an unspecified issue related to a movie project she is working on.
"For that reason I was unfortunately not able to perform the task of a jury member. I am very sad about this," she said.
Bonnaire said she was forced to cancel for personal reasons, and asked for the understanding of everyone involved.
"For me, it was a great honor to have been appointed to the Berlinale jury," Bonnaire said.
Now in its 58th year, the Berlin Film Festival has emerged as one the world's top three movie festivals. The jury will select from a total of more than 20 films being shown as part of the main competition.
Besides Costa-Gavras, the jury will include Taiwanese actress Shu Qi, US film editor Walter Murch, Russian TV and film producer Alexander Rodniansky, production designer Uli Hanisch, and German actress Diane Kruger.
The glamour quotient
Apart from Scorsese's Rolling Stones' documentary, Madonna is expected to whip up a media storm in Berlin with her directing debut, "Filth and Wisdom," a comedy about the dreams of ordinary people starring Richard E Grant.
This year's festival will also mark a series of anniversaries, including the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding and the 40th anniversary of the anti-war movement in the US unleashed by the Vietnam conflict.
The Israeli anniversary also comes at a time of growing international recognition of the country's movie makers, in particular at the world's leading film festivals.