The Berlinale's Panorama section has completed its 2008 lineup by announcing the 18 new films selected for the documentary strand Panorama Dokumente.
This last slew of films includes Isaac Julien's portrait of the late film-makerDerek Jarman in Derek; director-producer Dror Moreh's documentary Sharon on the former Israeli prime-minister Ariel Sharon, which will be handled internationally by Telepool; and Samson Vicent's portrait of one of the Berlinale's 'living legends', its 'photographer in residence' Erika Rabau in Erika Rabau - Puck Of Berlin. (An exhibition of her photographs will be staged in the nearby Museum for Communication during the festival.)
Moreover, there will be a special one-off screening of Gregg Araki's 1991 film The Living End in a digitally remixed remastered version; it was originally shown in the Panorama in 1992.
In total, the Panorama has selected 50 films, including 17 in the Main Programme and 15 in Panorama Special; 31 of these  films are world premieres and 17 directorial debuts.
The Main Programme will be opened on the evening of February 7 by Russian director Anna Melikyan's second feature Mermaid (Rusalka), Panorama Special by Eran Riklis' Israeli-German-French co-production Lemon Tree, and Panorama Dokumente by Parvez Sharma's A Jihad For Love documenting the lives of gay Muslims in 12 countries.
Sarajevo International Film Festival director Mirsad Purivatra, Bee Tham Tan, founder of the Asian Film Archive in Singapore, and Susanne Pfeffer, curator of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, will serve as this year's jury for the Manfred Salzgeber Prize which goes to a documentary or feature film that 'broadens the boundaries of cinema today' and is a non-cash prize for technical services required for cinema screenings.
Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily.com, section head Wieland Speck pointed that, as with the rest of this year's Berlinale programme, the theme of music would feature prominently in the Panorama section, 'but along with the queer films, this is a permanent focus that we have always had here every year. This time, we have films ranging from Heavy Metal in Baghdad to such discoveries as [Matt Wolf's] Wild Combination: A Portrait Of Arthur Russell about a forgotten musician who died from AIDS at the beginning of the 90s but had influenced many artists.'
Among other themes identified by Speck as running through the Panorama line-up are the issue of state corruption as examined in Soren Kragh-Jacobsen's What No One Knows, the 'favela-isation' of communities in the First World in such films as Oezguer Yildirim's Chiko and Anais Barbeau-Lavalette's The Fight, and a new politically aggressive stance taken by the queer community around the world, from Italy (Suddenly, Last Winter) to Russia (EAST/WEST - Sex & Politics).
'With the feature films we have a number that one could term 'new classics' because they have a very classical narrative form which isn't at all fuddy-duddy,' Speck observes, pointing to such films as Goetz Spielmann's Revanche, Salvatore Mereu's Sonetaula or Eran Riklis's Lemon Tree.
This year will again see more than a third of the Panorama's films coming from women directors ranging from last year's Teddy Award winner Zero Chou through Laetitia Masson and Teona Strugar Mitevska to Lucia Murat and directorial debutante Madonna with Filth and Wisdom.
'The interest is great,' says Speck about the excitement surrounding Madonna's visit to the Berlinale. 'We have had people like George Michael and others in the past, but this is up to another level.'
Meanwhile, Speck spoke about the Panorama's screening venue at the Zoo-Palast cinema and the future of the cinema in a planned re-development of the area: 'it could really be the last time we are here. I hope that it will be like Tempelhof [airport] which has supposed to be shut for years and is still open. But somehow it looks as if it could happen quickly. When this ideal architecture is gone, it is gone forever.'
The Panorama Dokumente lineup is as follows:
A Jihad For Love by Parvez Sharma (US/Germany/UK/France/Australia)
Bananaz by Ceri Levy (UK)
Cafe de Los Maestros by Miguel Kohan (Argentina)
Darling! The Pieter-Dirk Uys Story by Julian Shaw (Australia)
Dead Gay Men And Living Lesbians by Rosa von Praunheim (Germany)
Derek by Isaac Julien (UK)
EAST/WEST - Sex & Politics by Jochen Hick (Germany)
Erika Rabau - Puck Of Berlin by Samson Vicent (Germany)
Full Battle Rattle by Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss (US)
Heavy Metal In Baghdad by Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi (US)
Jesus Christus Savior by Peter Geyer (Germany)
Patti Smith: Dream Of Life by Steven Sebring (US)
Sharon by Dror Moreh (Israel/Germany)
Suddenly, Last Winter by Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi (Italy)
The Beauties From Leipzig by Gunther Scholz (Germany)
The Glow Of White Women by Yunus Vally (South Africa)
The Living End: Remixed and Remastered by Gregg Araki (US) - special screening
The Other Side Of Istanbul by Dondu Kilic (Germany)
Wild Combination: A Portrait Of Arthur Russell by Matt Wolf (US)
With Gilbert & George by Julian Cole (UK)