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Berlinale celebrates 60th anniversary

February 11, 2010 - BERLIN

Setting the dates for the Berlin International Film Festival 60th anniversary edition was complicated by the need to avoid an overlap with the popular Rotterdam and Sundance film festivals and the Academy Awards. The chosen slot avoids a clash that would have meant a shared spotlight for the Berlinale in its landmark year. Setting the dates for the Berlin International Film Festival 60th anniversary edition was complicated by the need to avoid an overlap with the popular Rotterdam and Sundance film festivals and the Academy Awards. The chosen slot avoids a clash that would have meant a shared spotlight for the Berlinale in its landmark year. The festival will screen a political thriller Ghostwriter from veteran director Roman Polanski, who is under house arrest.There are signs the global economic downturn is chilling movie output, which could mean fewer countries competing for the festival's Golden and Silver Bears.

Setting the dates for the Berlin International Film Festival 60th anniversary edition was complicated by the need to avoid an overlap with the popular Rotterdam and Sundance film festivals and the Academy Awards. The chosen slot avoids a clash that would have meant a shared spotlight for the Berlinale in its landmark year. The festival will screen a political thriller "Ghostwriter" from veteran director Roman Polanski, who is under house arrest. The screening of Polanski's Ghostwriter follows the Polish-born director's arrest in Switzerland two months ago on a US warrant concerning a 1977 charge of having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. Polanski is at present under house arrest in his Swiss chalet. His movie is about a ghostwriter who finds his life in danger after being commissioned to finish the memoirs of a former British prime minister. It is one of seven that form part of the Berlinale's main competition. There are signs the global economic downturn is chilling movie output, which could mean fewer countries competing for the festival's Golden and Silver Bears. Russian film industry's trade journal, Byulleten kinoprokatchuika, reports that about 100 Russian film projects have been canceled or suspended since the autumn of 2008, when the film industry experienced the impact of the economic crisis, and Mosfilm, the country's largest studio complex, said it had no films being shot in its studios. Berlinale head Dieter Kosslick told the ScreenDaily magazine recently that his event has not yet been affected by the downturn because of stable contracts with sponsors and federal funding. And so far, he said, interest in attending seems normal. The future could be a different issue. Several film industry figures and festival organizers are worrying aloud about future funding because of the economic climate, according to Screen Daily. The Berlinale website describes the festival as the city's largest cultural event and one of the most important dates on the international film industry's calendar. More than 19,000 film professionals from 120 countries, including 4000 journalists, are accredited for the festival every year. It also enjoys by far the largest audience of any film festival in the world, according to the website. Up to 400 films are shown every year as part of the Berlinale's public program, the vast majority of which are world or European premieres. The Peruvian film, "The Milk of Sorrow," which deals with the impact of the 20-year war between the Peruvian army and Shining Path guerrillas, won the Golden Bear in 2009. UPDATED Dec/09

Berlinale web:

Russian film industry in grips of big chill (Reuters 15 Mar 2009)

In Focus: Film Festivals brace for the recession (ScreenDaily 12 Dec 2008)

Date written/update: 2010-02-11