The first 15 titles unveiled by the Berlinale's Generation section include 19-year-old Hana Makhmalbaf's debut feature shot in Afghanistan Buddha Collapsed Out Of Shame, Danish masters Jannik Hastrup and Flemming Quist Moeller's action-packed animated love story A Tale Of Two Mozzies and Elissa Downs' The Black Balloon, a sensitive portrayal of a mother's relationship with her autistic son.
The Generation programme for children (Kplus) includes:
A Tale of Two Mozzies (Cykelmyggen og Dansemyggen) by Jannik Hastrup and Flemming Quist Moeller, Denmark
Buddha Collapsed Out Of Shame (Buda az sharm foru rikh) by Hana Makhmalbaf, Iran/France
Chop Shop by Ramin Bahrani, US 2007
Flower In The Pocket by Liew Seng Tat, Malaysia
Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger by Cathy Randall, Australia
Mutum by Sandra Kogut, Brazil
The Lives Of Titanic The Cat (Titanics ti liv) by Grethe Boe, Norway
Where Is Winky's Horse' (Waar is het Paard van Sinterklaas') by Mischa Kamp, The Netherlands
The young people's (14plus) programme willinclude:
32A by Marian Quinn, Ireland/Germany
Ciao Bella by Mani Maserrat-Agah, Sweden
City Of Menby Paulo Morelli, Brazil
Fighter by Natasha Arthy, Denmark
Munyurangabo by Lee Isaac Chung, US
September by Peter Carstairs, Australia
The Black Balloon by Elissa Down, UK
Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily.com, Generation's section head Thomas Hailer pointed out that 'Australia is very strong this year with films like Cathy Randall's Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger and Peter Castairs' September. There are also a number of impressive shorts from New Zealand where I have the feeling that money in training is being spent in the right places. There are really powerful and relevant films with an indigenous background which are proof of an exciting diversity.'
One of the innovations for Generation's 2008 edition will see the 14plus competition moving venue from the Zoopalast's Kino 4 to the Babylon Cinema in the centre of Berlin 'as a response to the extremely strong demand,' according to Hailer. 'This section then has its own cinema in an area which appeals to the 14plus audience and I think it is good to transplant this segment before we might possibly be forced to go by changes to the Zoo Palast.'
The move to the Babylon Cinema could also be interpreted as another step in the Berlinale's long-term strategy to involve more cinemas in the Eastern half of the city as screening venues.
In addition, the 14plus programme will stage a competition of short films vieing for a Crystal Bear for the first time, and both sections are now to set to include documentaries as well. 'In previous years, this was excluded by the regulations,' Hailer explained, 'but this year  we showed the 'mockumentary' Razzle Dazzle and believe that documentaries are extremely important for children and young people.'
Finally, Generation will be making 'a decisive step' in the Kplus programme for 'the upper age segment of 12 and above' by showing two films with German laser subtitles instead of having a voice-over along with the original soundtrack and English subtitles. 'We had been wanting to do this for a long time and it makes sense, in particular, with a film like Ramin Bahrani's Chop Shop; it is also a way of preparing our audiences for making the transition to the 14plus programme,' Hailer said.