The Berlinale (Feb 10-20) has unveiled its completecompetition programme with 21 films set to compete for the festival's Goldenand Silver Bears. Five more films will play out of competition.
Africa emerges as a key theme of the selection with RaoulPeck's Sometimes In April and Terry George's Hotel Rwanda bothaddressing the genocidal civil war that erupted in Rwanda ten years ago. Otherfilms tackling African issues include Regis Wargnier's opening film Man ToMan and Mark Dornford-May's U-Carment eKhayelitsha.
New additions to the Berlinale line-up, part of which wasunveiled just before Christmas, include the international premiere ofportmanteau piece Tickets, directed by Ermanno Olmi, Abbas Kiarostamiand Ken Loach.
Politics also rears its head in the selection: HanyAbu-Assad's Paradise Now is an account of the last 48 hours in the lifeof two Palestinian suicide bombers, while Russian director Aleksandr Sokurovpresents the world premiere of The Sun about Japanese Emperor Hirohito.
A number of new US films have been confirmed in theline-up and should help boost the star wattage of the festival including theWill Smith starring Hitch, Paul Weitz's In Good Company, starringDenis Quaid, Topher Grace and Scarlett Johansson, and Thumbsucker, whosecast includes Keanu Reeves and Tilda Swinton.
Films likely to cause controversy include Chinesedirector Tsai Ming-Liang's The River which is billed as a story ofalienation and features explicit sex scenes.
- Sometimes In April, dir Raoul Peck. A US production, the film isabout the trauma of the civil war in Rwanda and stars Oris Erhuero, Idris Elbaand Debra Winger.
- Provincia Meccanica, dirStefano Mordini. The debut film from Italian director Mordini is about howa young and unconventional family threatens to become undone by society'snorms. Stefano Accorsi and Valentina Cervi star.
- Accused (Anklaget),dir Jacob Thuesen. A Danish production about family man Henrik (Troels Lyby)whose life takes a dramatic turn when his daughter accuses him of a veryserious crime. World premiere.
- Words In Blue (Les Mots Bleu), dir Alain Corneau. Ateacher tries to find out why a little girl is so uncommunicative. SylvieTestud, Sergi Lopez, Camille Gauthier and Laurent Petin co-star in this Frenchfamily story.
- The Beat That My HeartSkipped (De Battre Mon Coeur S'est Arrête), dir Jacques Audiard. A French film about a young man who leads a life at theedge of legality. Romain Duris, Emmanuelle Devos and Niels Arestrup star.
- Paradise Now, dirHany Abu-Assad. A Dutch-German-French co-production, the film gives anaccount of the last 48 hours in the lives of two Palestinian suicide bombers.It stars Kais Nashif and Ali Sulieman.
- The Sun (Solnze), dir Aleksandr Sokurov. The third part of in theRussian director's trilogy on the psychology of power which revolves around theJapanese Emperor Hirohito.
- The Wayward Cloud, (Tian Bian Yi Duo Yun), dir Tsai Ming-Liang.This Taiwanese-Chinese-French co-production sees colourful musical scenesjuxtaposed with explicit sex scenes.
- The Hidden Blade (Kakushi Ken-Oni No Tsume), dir Yoji Yamada.The Japanese director of Twilight Samurai tells the story of a samuraiwho, in the mid-19th century, at a time of social upheaval, seeks his place inthe world.
- Thumbsucker, dir Mike Mills. US video-clip and short-filmdirector Mills makes his feature debut with a film about the bizarre anddramatic odyssey of a young teenager into drug addiction. It stars Lou Taylor-Pucci,Vincent D'Onofrio, Keanu Reeves and Tilda Swinton.
- In Good Company, dir Paul Weitz. The story of the head ad sales for a major sportsmagazine who is forced to turn over his job to an ambitious whiz kid. DennisQuaid, Topher Grace and Scarlett Johansson star in this tale of competition,careers and the loss of control.
- Man To Man, dirRegis Wargnier. Starring Joseph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Iain Glen,Hugh Bonneville and Flora Montgomery, the film is set in South Africa in the1870s and follows the search for the so-called "Missing Link" - the connectionbetween man and ape much discussed by scientists in the 19th century.
- Ghosts (Gespenster), dir Christian Petzold. AGerman-French co-production, the film recounts the story of a Frenchwoman whosedaughter was abducted as a small child in Berlin. After years of uncertainty,she thinks she has finally found her daughter when she spots a vagrant youngwoman.
- Sophie Scholl - Hope And Resistance (Sophie Scholl -Die letzten Tage), dir Marc Rothemund. The film portrays the last six daysin the life of the young woman who co-founded "The White Rose", a resistancegroup, before she was executed by the Nazis in 1943.
- One Day In Europe, dir Hannes Stöhr. An episodiccomedy set against the Champion League Finals, which sees tourists in Moscow,Istanbul, Santiago de Compostela and Berlin fall prey to thieves. AGerman-Spanish co-production.
- The Walker Of The Champ de Mars (Promeneur du Champ deMars), dir Robert Guediguian. Based on Georges-Marc Benamou'sbiography, this French film depicts François Mitterrand's last days in which hereveals intimate secrets and personal memories to his confidant, a youngjournalist.
- Changing Times (Les Temps Qui Changent), dir AndreTechine. Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu play lovers who, after aseparation of thirty years, meet again in Tangiers. Yet they still have a longways to go to work out their feelings for each other.
- The Life Aquatic, dir Wes Anderson. A zanyunderwater comedy about an eccentric family hunting down a deadly shark. BillMurray, William Dafoe, Anjelica Huston and Owen Wilson co-star in the mainroles.
- Asylum, dir David Mackenzie. This US/Irish filmsees Natasha Richardson play the wife of a psychiatrist who begins a passionateaffair with one of her husband's patients. Sir Ian McKellen (Lord Of TheRings) and Hugh Bonneville (Iris) also star.
- Carmen In Khayelitsha (U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha),dir Mark Dornford-May. A screen adaptation of Bizet's opera "Carmen" set in aSouth-African township. The film has been made entirely in the country'sofficial language Xhosa.
- Peacock, dir Gu Changwei. One of China'smost famous and successful cinematographers (Farewell, My Concubine)presents his directorial debut at the Berlinale. In it he portrays the dailylife of a family in a small town in the province of Henan. The story begins inthe 1970s, after the Cultural Revolution, and ends in 1984.
- Hotel Rwanda, dir Terry George. A British/South-African/Italian co-production running as a European premiere out ofcompetition. The film tells the true story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabaginawho during the civil war sheltered more than a thousand Tutsi refugees from theHutu militia.
- Heights, dir Chris Terrio. A USA/UK production, the film isTerrio's directorial debut and intertwines the lives of five people on a summerday in New York in the shifting vagaries of love. Glenn Close, IsabellaRossellini and Elizabeth Banks play the leads. Out of competition.
- Tickets, dirsErmanno Olmi, Abbas Kiarostami and Ken Loach. A portmanteau piece in whichinterwoven stories of love, devotion and self-sacrifice all take place during ajourney on a train to Rome. Out of competition.
- Hitch, dir Andy Tennant. Will Smith plays a notorious marriagebroker, dubbed "Date Doctor", who has a talent for pairing offentirely unremarkable men with extremely desirable women.
- Kinsey, dir Bill Condon. Liam Neeson and Laura Linney co-starin a story about the life of Alfred C. Kinsey. Closing film at the Berlinale