World premieres of new films by Damian Harris, Doris Doerrie, Wang Xiaoshuai and Errol Morris are among the first eight titles confirmed so far for the Competition programme of next February's Berlinale (February 7-17).

The five world premieres selected by festival director Dieter Kosslick are:

  • Damian Harris's UK-US production Gardens Of The Night, starring Gillian Jacobs, Evan Ross, Tom Arnold and John Malkovich, about two children who are forced to fend for themselves on the streets after being abducted and held captive for over nine years.
  • Doerrie's Berlinale competition debut Kirschblueten (English title: Cherry Blossoms - Hanami), a tragi-comic drama about a widower (Elmar Wepper) travelling from Germany to Japan in the search of the lost dreams of his late wife (Hannelore Elsner). Bavaria Film International will handle world sales for the Olga Film production which will be released theatrically in Germany by Majestic Filmverleih.
  • Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai's In Love We Trust (Zuo You) - his return to Berlin after his Silver Bear-winning Beijing Bicycle. His new film is about a mother who resorts to unusual measures to save her firstborn child from cancer.
  • Mexican filmmaker Fernando Eimbcke's second feature film Lake Tahoe, starring Diego Catano, Hector Herrera, and Daniela Valentine, about a 16-year-old boy coming to terms with his father's sudden death.
  • Veteran documentary film-maker Errol Morris's S.O.P. Standard Operating Procedure which investigates the violation of human rights at the infamous Abu Gharib prison complex near Baghdad and the reasoning behind the so-called 'anti-terror war.'

In addition, international premieres are also being lined up of Paul Thomas Anderson's western There Will Be Blood, which Screen International described as 'a vivid, sprawling, Bible-quoting parable about greed and moral corrosion, rich with references to the history of epic cinema';and Brazilian director Jose Padilha's political thrilller and box-office hit The Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) about life for the poorest inhabitants in Brazil under the influence of the drug mafia and the brutal and corrupt military police.

Veteran Polish director Andrzej Wajda's latest work Katyn, which had its world premiere at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia in September and has been a major box-office draw in Poland this autumn, will have its first screening internationally 'out of competition' in Berlin's official Competition programme.

This first raft of Competition titles - around a third of the films for this central section at the Berlinale - comes much earlier than was the case for the 2007 edition when the initial batch was not announced until the beginning of January.

So far, the selection gives a clear feeling that the 2008 Berlinale will again have a distinctly political flavour - as already suggested previously by the choice of Costa-Gavras as jury president and of veteran Italian director Francesco Rosi as recipient of an Honorary Golden Bear and Homage in a year when the 40th anniversary of political events of 1968 will be uppermost in many minds.