Feb. 8 - As the German capital struggles with icy temperatures and Hollywood stars prepare for the upcoming Oscars, the 2012 international Berlin film festival is going back to its roots: issue and political films combined with glitz and glamour. Kilmeny Duchardt reports.
Berlin is rolling out the red carpet for its 62nd annual International Film Festival. The venue will soon be flooded with the stars of this year's competition, with a line-up of 18 films rivaling for top honors. Opening the competition is the French period drama, "Farewell My Queen" starring German actress Diane Kruger as Marie Antoinette. Oscar-nominated actress Meryl Streep will be recognized for her Lifetime Achievement at a screening of her latest film, "The Iron Lady." Tom Hanks' film "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" isn't nominated, but will show at the festival. Screen International correspondent Lee Marshal thinks Hanks' presence would add more star power to the mix. (SOUNDBITE) Lee Marshal, correspondent, Screen International, saying (English): "Last year we had 'The King's Speech' out of competition and Colin Firth turned up for that even though it was two weeks before the Oscars. You know, I don't really know why Tom Hanks isn't here this year, but if the rumors are true that he is not going to show, you know, it can, yes, it can be...it's more award ceremony pressure rather than the cold that determines that." If Hanks is out, then fingers crossed for Angelina Jolie and hopefully Brad Pitt in tow, as Jolie's directorial debut film, "In the Land of Blood and Honey" will also show this year. (SOUNDBITE) Lee Marshal, correspondent, Screen International, saying (English): "I think it's a good platform for that film, which has been seen in America. The initial revues have been mixed. I'm expecting it to be better than Madonna's film, if we are talking about films by actresses as directors." Lee says films highlighting political and social issues will be the focal themes for this year's top contenders. (SOUNDBITE) Lee Marshal, correspondent, Screen International, saying (English): "Last year we saw some very strong documentaries about the financial crisis and a couple of fictional films about the financial crisis, as well. This year it is more the Arab Spring, so I think Berlin has always had a strength in that area of issue films and political films." The German capital's Berlinale festival kicks off on February 9, with the awards ceremony taking place on February 18. Kilmeny Duchardt, Reuters.