German cinema is really being put in the spotlight at the upcoming Berlinale (February 6-17) with the news that a fourth local film - Andreas Dresen's Halbe Treppe - has been selected to screen in the festival's Official Competition section.

This latest addition joins Tom Tykwer's Heaven, which will open the festival on February 6, Dominik Graf's A Map Of The Heart (Der Felsen), and a special "out of competition" screening of Wim Wenders' rockumentary Viel Passiert - Der BAP Film.

Halbe Treppe was shot on DV last year at locations in Frankfurt an der Oder and is Dresen and producer Peter Rommel's second invitation to the Berlinale official competition after being in the festival's lineup in 1999 with Night Shapes (Nachtgestalten).

This first edition of the Berlinale under the new direction of Dieter Kosslick has evidently generated a lot of interest among the local German film industry, for in an interview with Dresden-based Sachsische Zeitung, Kosslick stated that applications for festival accreditation were up by more than 1,000 from the German film professionals this year compared to 2001.

Meanwhile, the Panorama's selectors have now confirmed screening of Japanese filmmaker Hideo Nakata's mystery thriller Dark Water (Honogurai Mizuno Sokokara), Leon Ichaso's Pinero, starring Benjamin Bratt, Giancarlo Esposito, and Talisa Soto, about the explosive life of the Latino icon and poet-playwright-actor Miguel Pinero, and Beto Brant's Sao Paulo-set drama O Invasor about two business partners triggering off an unexpectedly nightmarish situation when they hire a contract killer to eliminate a third partner.