Lukas Moodysson's Mammoth, with Gael Garcia Bernal, Michelle Williams, and Sophie Nyweide, and world premieres of new films by Sally Potter, Maren Ade, Rebecca Miller and Rachid Bouchareb are among ten titles confirmed so far for the Competition programme of the 2009 Berlinale international film.
The four world premieres selected for the Competition programme by festival director Dieter Kosslick are:
Alle Anderen by Maren Ade (Germany)
London River by Rachid Bouchareb (Algeria/France/Great Britain)
Rage by Sally Potter (Great Britain/USA)
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller (USA) - out of competition
In addition, there will be international premieres of Chen Kaige's Forever Enthralled (Mei Llanfang) and Oren Moverman's directorial debut The Messenger, starring Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton.
'Out of competition' screenings of Theo Angelopoulos' The Dust Of Time and Harald Zwart's Pink Panther II will also premiere.
Stephen Daldry's Golden Globe-nominated The Reader has also been granted an 'out of competition' slot in the Berlinale's Competition.
In an exclusive interview with Screen Daily on the preparations for the 2009 Competition line-up, festival director Dieter Kosslick said:
'during our viewing for the Competition selection, I have noticed that there have been particularly strong films coming from France and the UK, but fewer films this year from Asia, while there have been many films submitted from Germany.'
'Looking at the American films we have for the competition, I don't think one can speak of a weak year like other festivals had said earlier in the year,' he argued.
'We haven't been influenced by the screenwriters' strike. At the same time, we will have to see in January what effect the current financial crisis has on the market at the Berlinale. At the moment, we are confident that all will be well and the new market venue in the Marriott Hotel will work.'
With around half of the Competition line-up now confirmed, Kosslick could identify a common thread running many of the films selected:
'This begins with the opening film The International as a statement on the state of the financial world. Many of the films reflect such issues as globalisation, warfare and high finance from the perspective of the home front. You don't see the soldiers in conflict but as traumatised home-comers trying to get back into normal life. There are also films about people retreating into their own personal and private domains and, instead of political statements, it is more about the family unit at the centre.'
One of the challenges facing the Berlinale for its 2009 edition is finding the right venues to screen the films and responding to the ever-growing demand from the industry professionals and the general public for tickets.
The Berlinale Special sidebar is having to find a new venue after the Filmpalast's owner Hans-Joachim Flebbe renovated the cinema with a reduced number of seating, and talks with the Babylon Cinema have not been concluded on hosting Generation 14plus again.
'The addition of the Friedrichstadtpalast is part of our strategy to enable people to get tickets,' Kosslick explained. 'The number of accredited guests grows each year and the number of paying cinemagoers rises as well. Our USP at the Berlinale is that we are a competitive festival with a large paying public. You don't have this duality and in such a dimension anywhere else.'
'One way of meeting the demand would be to put up the prices, but we have no intention of doing this, although we are often urged by the cinema-owners to increase the prices because our tickets are lower than the normal prices after the Berlinale.'
'We have to find a balance between the general public and the professional visitors because the more accreditations there are for professional visitors, the less tickets are then available for the public,' he added.
'The prices for the accreditation may have gone up this year, but you have to see the wide range of services we are now providing.'