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Crisis fallout in focus at star-studded Berlin film fest

BERLIN--Next month's 63rd Berlin film festival will comb through the “collateral damage” of the global economic crisis with Hollywood movies and independent releases vying for prizes, organizers said Monday.

The Feb. 7-17 Berlinale, the first major European film festival of the year, will showcase 24 pictures from 22 countries in the main program, with a total of more than 400 movies screened in its sprawling sidebar sections.

A jury led by Chinese director Wong Kar Wai will choose among 19 films in competition for the Golden and Silver Bear top prizes, to be awarded at a gala red-carpet ceremony on Feb. 16.

Oscar-winning actor Tim Robbins, New York-based Iranian filmmaker Shirin Neshat, Greek producer Athina Rachel Tsangari, Danish Academy Award-winner Susanne Bier, German director Andreas Dresen and U.S. camerawoman Ellen Kuras round out the panel.

Festival director Dieter Kosslick told reporters as he unveiled the full program that the Berlinale was continuing its tradition, begun during the Cold War, of featuring politically charged cinema from big names and upstarts.

“On the one hand we have major Hollywood films, but we have also brought in filmmakers who are on their first or second picture,” he said.

“Thematically throughout the program you have a lot of women at the heart of the stories... and the collateral damage of the crisis on various societies.”

Star-gazers can expect Matt Damon, Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Geoffrey Rush, Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lee and Zhang Ziyi, among others.

Damon teams up with U.S. director Gus Van Sant for the first time since their 1997 Oscar winner “Good Will Hunting” in “Promised Land,” about U.S. families facing the economic pinch who sell their land to companies extracting natural gas through fracking.

Steven Soderbergh, who has said he is heading into semi-retirement, reunites with Law from “Contagion” and Catherine Zeta-Jones from “Traffic” to present “Side Effects,” about the pharmaceuticals industry preying on stressed-out Americans.

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Conference suggests ways Broadway can be better
Director of the Berlinale Film Festival Dieter Kosslick holds Berlinale merchandise as he poses for photographers prior to addressing a press conference in Berlin, Monday, Jan. 28. ...

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