A crucifix parodied as a Nazi swastika, hung only a few hundred metres from Hitler's famous bunker in Berlin's Potsdamer Platz, is certain to spark controversy at the Berlin festival as well as among the city's populace.
The gruesome image (pictured) is the poster for Costa-Gavras' Amen, which gets its premiere on Wednesday (Feb 12). The poster was designed by Oliviero Toscani, the Italian photographer who has never shied away from controversy and became notorious with some of his work for Benetton.
Toscani told Screen International that he was not concerned that the choice of image could be misconstrued in a city so closely connected with this dark chapter in recent German history. "It is a hybrid of a Vatican cross combined with a swastika to make a new baby. People shouldn't get upset because I didn't invent this image. It was there before me."
Festival director , Dieter Kosslick sees the poster simply as good marketing. "Presentation must be left up to the director, producer and poster artist. The film Amen is about the connection between the Vatican and the Nazis. Toscani's work has often been contentious. That is the function of a good poster."
According to a marketing executive from the film's world sales company Pathe International, "(the design) reflects the strong message of the movie. There might be some polemic, but once you have seen the film, the poster is obvious. In fact, the design is much more critical of the Catholic Church". Screen International contacted Concorde Filmverleih, the German distributor, but the company preferred not to comment.
Other festival films tackling Nazi themes include Istvan Szabo's Taking Sides (Der Fall Furtwängler), Bertrand Tavernier's Safe Conduct (Laissez-Passer), Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer's Blind Spot Hitler's Secretary (Im Toten Winkel. Hitlers Sekretärin) - as well as Charlie Chaplin's classic: The Great Dictator.