Screen International gives the lowdown on selected hot titles from this year's Berlin Film Festival.
Followed by a comprehensive list of all titles in the main sections.
A Map Of The Heart (Germany)
Dir: Dominik Graf
With A Map Of The Heart (Der Felsen) the critically-acclaimed German director Dominik Graf, whose credits include Die Katze and Die Siege, has delivered his most personal film. Known for his precise, intelligent and dense characterisations together with his extraordinary visual craft, Graf unfolds a story about a thirtysomething woman (Karoline Eichhorn) whose life starts to unravel when her boss and lover (Ralph Herforth) tells her his wife is pregnant. Set in Corsica, the film takes another twist when an adventure-hungry young man, played by Antonio Wannek, attempts to seduce her.
Int'l sales: Bavaria International,
(49) 30 26 93 36 00
The fight for justice against the odds is one of the favourite subjects of double Oscar and Golden Bear winner Costa-Gavras (Missing, Music Box). Amen is based on Rolf Hochhuth's controversial play about the complicity of the Vatican during the time of Nazi ascendancy in Europe. The historical drama explores the role of the Catholic Church through the eyes of a maverick SS officer, played by Ulrich Tukur, who tries to persuade the Vatican to protest against the Final Solution.
Int'l sales: Concorde Filmverlieh,
(49) 89 4506 100
A Prayer For Hetman Mazepa (Russia-Ukraine)
Out of competition
Dir: Yuri Ilyenko
A Prayer For Hetman Mazepa is a historical film about the controversial and colourful Ukrainian nationalist Mazepa who fought for the independence of the country from Peter the Great's Russia in the 17th century. At a reported $25m, the film is the biggest to be made in the Ukraine for a decade, and the most ambitious project yet for its veteran Ukrainian director. The decision by the Russian government to provide backing raised eyebrows in Russia as the character of Peter the Great is portrayed in a less than flattering light. The Ukrainian minister of culture, Bogdan Stupka, also one of the country's best-known actors, stars as the older Mazepa.
Int'l sales: Ministry of Culture and Art of Ukraine
(38) 044 446 9231
Dir: Christopher Roth
Upcoming writer-director Christopher Roth turns to a still very politically sensitive time in German history for this look at the life of one of the founders of the infamous Baader-Meinhof gang, Andreas Baader. With Ulrike Meinhof, the gang (otherwise known as the Red Army Faction) blew up department stores and military installations in their rage against the capitalist state in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The film is sure to look pretty hip, given the gang's predilection for sunglasses, black leather and BMWs helped influence an entire generation of German youth.
Int'l sales: 72films,
(49) 30 4737 2741
Dir: Amos Kollek
Set in America, Bridget examines the sacrifices a mother has to make to protect her loved ones. When Bridget, a former gangster's moll, loses a legal battle for her son in court she sets out to get him back, but needs to find a way to finance the operation. A chance meeting with two men puts her in a position to earn her freedom. With humour, action and romance, Kollek says he hoped to create a film that has "more variety in its colours" than his previous works and leaves the audience with the hope that luck could be waiting just around the next corner.
Int'l sales: Flach Pyramide International,
(33) 1 42 96 02 20
Burning In The Wind (Italy-Switzerland)
Dir: Silvio Soldini
Silvio Soldini's highly anticipated new film marks an abrupt change from Bread And Tulips, the Italian director's mega-successful arthouse comedy about a bored Italian housewife whose distracted husband leaves her behind at a motorway cafe. Here, Soldini uses unknown Czech actors to film a tragic story in French and Czech about an East European immigrant in Switzerland who becomes obsessed by a married woman from his village who works in the same factory as him. Soldini and his regular writing partner, Bulgarian-Italian Doriana Leondeff, loosely based Burning In The Wind (Brucio Nel Vento) on Agota Kristof's novel Yesterday, but have changed the book's downbeat ending to a more hopeful resolution. Soldini began working on the screenplay several years ago, but stopped to make Bread And Tulips, preferring to focus on a comedy first.
Int'l sales: Adriana Chiesa Enterprises
(39) 6 807 04 00
Bad Guy (South Korea)
Dir: Kim Ki-duk
Kim Ki-duk's fable about a pimp who drags a college girl into prostitution will divide audiences as none of his previous films have. The film's strengths include an arresting opening sequence and a mesmerising performance by the film's lead, Cho Je-hyun, who looks sure to be in the running for a nomination in the best actor race. Meanwhile, the film's deliberately provocative final 10 minutes will leave some viewers enraged. This is the seventh film by Kim, who is attracting an international following despite being largely overlooked in his home territory of South Korea.
Int'l sales: CJ Entertainment,
(822) 726 8564
Beneath Clouds (Australia)
Director: Ivan Sen
Many Aboriginal film-makers have emerged in Australia in recent years, but some of the highest expectations are focused on writer-director Ivan Sen. The word is that this simple story of two teenage hitchhikers who meet and fall in love on the road has absolutely nailed the nature of contemporary Australian race relations. Lena is the light-skinned daughter of an Aboriginal mother and Irish father, on her way to Sydney to look for her missing father. Vaughn is a Murri boy who has escaped from a detention centre to see his dying mother. The story is told on a small canvas and is restrained, understated and finely nuanced, but the meanings are writ large. Watch too for the laconic and very real performances of the two first-time leads.
Int'l sales: Axiom Films,
(44) 20 7287 7720
Camel(s) (South Korea)
Dir: Park Kiyong
A digitally-shot black-and-white film about a middle-aged man and woman who meet up for a one-night affair. Shot in just 10 days, Camel(s) presents its story to the viewer with little exposition, but its well-drawn characters prove engaging nevertheless. This is the second film by Park after the award-winning Motel Cactus in 1997.
Int'l sales: e pictures,
(82) 2 3673 2545
Dark Water (Japan)
Dir: Hideo Nakata
Dark Water stars Hitomi Kuroki as a woman with a troubled past who leaves her husband and begins a new life with her five-year-old daughter, only to find that their new apartment building has a past - and a mind - of its own. Based on a best-selling short story collection by Koji Suzuki and directed by Hideo Nakata, Dark Water opened in Japan in November. Nakata also directed two of the entries in the hit Ring horror series. Kadokawa Shoten, a leading Japanese publisher with extensive media interests, has reached a basic agreement with Pandemonium, former Fox president Bill Mechanic's production company, to remake