World premieres of Justin Chadwick's The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Dennis Lee's Fireflies In The Garden, with Julia Roberts and Willem Dafoe, and Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi's The Song Of Sparrows are among the last eight Competition titles to be confirmed.
The latest additions also include debutant Petri Kowicka's psychological thriller Black Ice which is the first feature-length film from Finland for almost 20 years in the Competition and the fourth ever in that section in the Berlinale's history. The last Finnish feature in the Berlinale competition was Pekka Parikka's Talvisota - The Winter War in 1990.
Meanwhile, Lance Hammer's Ballast, which had its world premiere at this week's Sundance Film Festival, is the second film in this year's Competition by an alumni from the Berlinale Talent Campus - the other film is Mexican filmmaker Fernando Eimbcke's second feature film Lake Tahoe. Hammer attended the Campus in 2004.
The international premiere of Michel Gondry's comedy Be Kind Rewind with Jack Black and Mos Def will be the closing film after the awards ceremony on February 16.
Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily.com about the selection procedure for the 2008 lineup, festival director Dieter Kosslick commented: 'Things went pretty smooth this year. We didn't have any real problems in getting films this year. In principle, it's business as usual although we do have some really big highlights in the programme, like, of course, the opening film of Martin Scorsese's documentary Shine A Light with The Rolling Stones.
'We are very pleased with the films offered to us for the Competition and 'out of competition' slots,' Kosslick continued, pointing out that 18 of the Competition films this year are world premieres 'and we have a good mix of large and smaller films.'
'While I wouldn't see it as a conscious focus, films from and about Israel are also strongly represented in the Competition and the rest of the festival this year,' Kosslick noted, 'this is perhaps because filmmakers have reflected on the origins and development of this state as its celebrates its 60th anniversary.'
At the same time, the Berlinale will continue to serve as shop window for local German production and expects to again have around 50-55 shown through all of the festival's sections. This year's Competition will have two German productions Cherry Blossoms - Hanami and Heart of Fire as well as two projects with German co-producers: Restless (with TwentyTwenty Vision) and Black Ice (with Schmidtz Katze Filmkollektiv).
According to Kosslick, there are two common themes running throughout the whole of this year's programme: 'one is focussing on music including films where music such as hip-hop is shown to be a catalyst for young people wanting to forge their own identity.' These include such films as the Forum's Divizionz from Uganda/South Africa or Volker Meyer-Dabisch's documentary love, peace & beatbox about Berlin's human beatboxing subculture in Generation 14plus.
'Another theme has children as its subject where their lives and fates are at the centre of several fiction films and documentaries addressing, for example, the exploitation of children in sweatshops or pornography,' Kosslick said.
Apart from the official Luis Bunuel retrospective and an homage for veteran Italian director Francesco Rosi, the Berlinale will also be staging two special short film programmes, one to tie-in with Dominik Wessely's documentary about Filmverlag der Autoren, Reverse Angle - Rebellion of the Filmmakers, and a second programme, organised in cooperation with the Federal Agency for Civic Education, examining the reception of the Vietnam War in American Cinema on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the International Vietnam Conference held in Berlin in February 1968.
Meanwhile, Kosslick is confident that he will have plenty of stars to welcome on the Berlinale Filmpalast's red carpet despite the competition from the BAFTA awards ceremony on the first weekend. 'The BAFTA ceremony would work better for us for the line-up if they were on our second weekend,' Kosslick agreed. 'However, we do work together with BAFTA - and vice versa - in terms of talents.'
The Berlinale 2008 Competition lineup is as follows:
Ballast by Lance Hammer (US), with Micheal J. Smith, Jim Myron Ross, Tarra Riggs
Be Kind Rewind by Michel Gondry (US), with Jack Black, Mos Def - closing film - out of competition
Black Ice (Musta Jaa) by Petri Kotwica (Finland/Germany), with Outi Maenpaa, Ria Kataja, Martti Suosala, Ville Virtanen
Cherry Blossoms - Hanami by Doris Doerrie (Germany), with Elmar Wepper, Hannelore Elsner, Maximilian Brueckner
Elegy by Isabel Coixet (US), with Penelope Cruz, Ben Kingsley, Dennis Hopper and based on the novel The Dying Animal by Philip Roth
Fireflies in the Garden by Dennis Lee (US), with Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson - out of competition
Gardens Of The Night by Damian Harris (UK/US), with Gillian Jacobs, Evan Ross, Tom Arnold and John Malkovich
Happy-Go-Lucky by Mike Leigh (UK), with Sally Hawkins, Alexis Zegerman, Eddie Marsan, Samuel Roukin
Heart of Fire (Feuerherz) by Luigi Falorni (Germany/Italy/Austria)
I've Loved You So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t'aime) by Philippe Claudel (France/Germany), with Kristin Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein, Serge Hazanavicius, Laurent Grevill
In Love We Trust (Zuo You) by Wang Xiaoshuai (China)
Julia by Erick Zonca (France), with Tilda Swinton, Aidan Gould, Saul Rubinek
Kabei - Our Mother (Kabei) Yoji Yamada (Japan), with Sayuri Yoshinaga, Mitsugoro Bando, Tadanobu Asano
Katyn by Andrzej Wajda (Poland) - out of competition
Lady Jane by Robert Guediguian (France), with Ariane Ascaride, Gerard Meylan, Frederique Bonnal
Lake Tahoe by Fernando Eimbcke (Mexico), with Diego Catano, Hector Herrera, and Daniela Valentine
Night and Day (Bam gua Nat) by Hong Sangsoo (Republic of Korea), with Kim Youngho, Park Eunhye, Hwang Soojung
Quiet Chaos (Caos Calmo) by Antonello Grimaldi (Italy), with Nanni Moretti, Isabella Ferrari, Alessandro Gassman, Valeria Golino
Restless by Amos Kollek (Israel/Germany/Canada/France/Belgium), with Moshe Ivgy, Ran Danker, Karen Young, Phyllis Sommerville
Shine A Light by Martin Scorsese (US), with The Rolling Stones, documentary - opening film
S.O.P. Standard Operating Procedure by Errol Morris (US), documentary Sparrow by Johnnie To (Hong Kong, China), with Simon Yam Tat Wah, Kelly Lin Hsi Lei, Gordon Lam Ka Tung, Lam Suet
The Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) by Jose Padilha (Brazil)
The Other Boleyn Girl by Justin Chadwick (US/UK), with Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana - out of competition
The Song of Sparrows (Avaze Gonjeshk-ha) by Majid Majidi (Iran), with Reza Najie, Maryam Akbari, Kamran Dehghan, Hossein Aghazi
There Will Be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson (US), with Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Franklin Dano