Billed as "a surprise package of recent German cinema", the first films in the Perspektive Deutsches Kino programme include the directorial debut of Franka Potente, the German actress who became an international star on the back of Run Lola Run and The Bourne Identity and its sequel.

Celebrating its fifth year, the Berlinale sidebar devoted to German cinema features nine world premieres.

Potente's first stint as director is certainly unexpected. Her film, Der die Tollkirsche ausgräbt (Digging For Belladonna) is both black-and-white and silent. The actress wrote and directed this homage and light-hearted reflection on her favourite medium. It features a silent Emilia Sparagna, as well as Christoph Bach, Max Urlacher, Justus von Dohnanyi and Teresa Harder.

Another actor who is stepping behind the camera for the first time is Zsolt Bács (Baader). His directorial debut, Esperanzais a story about a group of unusual characters on a run-down luxury cruiser on anew year's voyage who grapple with love, life and death. The film stars Anna Thalbach,Mavie Hörbiger, Frank Giering, Boris Aljinovic and Gojko Mitic among others.

Set in Berlin,Auszeit (Time Out), isa tale of an out-of-work advertiser Wilms (Godehard Giese), who the audience suspects has murdered ayoung woman. This 30-minute film directed by Jules Herrmann from the Film andTelevision Academy (HFF) in Potsdam-Babelsberg portraysa day in the life of a man who has a past but no future.

Markus Herling's magical drama, Schöner Leben (Riding UpFront) is alsoset in Berlin on a Christmas Eve.The story is told in episodes where his characters played by IsabellaParkinson, Max Herbrechter, Karin Düweland others experience a gamut of emotions over this festive period that runfrom hope and fear to poverty and good cheer.

Nikias Chryssos,a student at the Film Academyin Ludwigsburglooks at the plight of two young brothers struggling to survive in a harshworld devoid of adults in Hochhaus (Towerblock) - a film that looks at child poverty.

In Nichtsweiter als(Nothing More Than), is a 25-minute cinematic experiment by Lars Büchel a director of both cinema and advertising films. Büchel presented four filmmakers - FriederikeJehn, Sebastian Stern, Jens Schillmöllerand Lale Nalpantoglu with anArne Rautenberg poem asking each of them to adapt itto the screen.

Dietrich Brüggemann's Neun Szenen (NineTakes) co-written with his sister, actress Anna Brüggemannis a film shot in nine sequences. Dietrich gets his contemporaries to discussand live out what moves them or acts as a distraction in their everydaylives.

In Christian Moris Müller's drama, Vier Fenster (Four Windows) a family is represented as amicrocosm of society where everyone is trying to get one over each other. Thisco-production between the Babelsberg and Munichfilm academies stars Margarita Broich, Thorsten Merten and Frank Droese.

In the documentary Warum halb vier'(Why Three-Thirty - You'll Never WalkAlone) directorand producer, brothers Lars and Axel Pape examine thesocial and philosophical aspects of the beautiful game - football and all theemotions it can trigger such as violence and friendship.

Perspektive Deutsches Kino2006:

Auszeit (Time Out) by Jules Herrmann

Der die Tollkirsche ausgräbt (Digging forBelladonna) by Franka Potente

Esperanza by Zsolt Bács

Hochhaus (Towerblock)by Nikias Chryssos

Katharina Bullin - Und ich dachte ichwär' die Größte (Katharina Bullin - And I ThoughtI Was the Greatest) by Marcus Welsch

Der Lebensversicherer(Running On Empty) by Bülent Akinci

Nichts weiter als (Nothing More Than) by Friederike Jehn, Sebastian Stern,Jens Schillmöller, Lale Nalpantoglu and Lars Büchel

Schöner leben (Riding UpFront) by Markus Herling

Vier Fenster (FourWindows) by Christian Moris Müller

Warum halb Vier' (Why Three-Thirty - You'll Never WalkAlone) by Lars Pape

Wholetrain by Florian Gaag

The Perspektive Deutsches KinoSpecial for the Berlinale "Kinotag"(February 19):

Neun Szenen (NineTakes) by Dietrich Brüggemann