The Arab Spring uprisings and political turmoil in the West will dominate the 62nd Berlin film festival starting February 9, as Hollywood royalty sprinkles stardust in the frigid German capital.
Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman, Robert Pattinson, Antonio Banderas and Christian Bale are due in town to present new films at the first major European festival of the year, and arguably its most topical.
Farewell My Queen, a drama starring Diane Kruger as Marie Antoinette on the eve of the French Revolution and told from the point of view of the underclass — a kind of Occupy Versailles — will set the tone for 11 days of world premieres.
“There is a clear theme running through the Berlinale this year and that is upheaval,” festival director Dieter Kosslick told reporters as he unveiled the line-up featuring nearly 400 films.
“A lot of stories are seen from the perspective of the underdog and that theme of radical change and political awakening applies to our opening film too.”
Berlin prides itself on being “edgier” than its chief competitors, Cannes and Venice, with a more overtly political programme. This year’s event will spotlight the Arab Spring one year after the fall of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak with documentaries shot on the ground, panel discussions and feature films dealing with the region’s history and cultures.
Jolie is to present her directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey, a Bosnian wartime love story, and participate in an audience discussion after the screening.
Streep will pick up an honorary Golden Bear for her life’s work and the festival will show the top films of her career culminating in a gala screening of her new Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2012.
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