( dpa )- The Berlin Film Festival rolls out the red carpet next month with festivities that have built up a reputation for showcasing films depicting the harder edge of life while attracting the leading figures in the global movie business.
Now in its 58th year, the Berlinale has emerged as one of the world's top three film festivals each year drawing some of the top international stars to Berlin with the dpa .
As a result, the festival offers a touch of glamour to the German capital, with stars including Madonna, Julia Roberts, Penelope Cruz, Ben Kingsley, Daniel Day-Lewis and The Rolling Stones on the invitation list.
As the first of Europe's major festivals, with Cannes following in May and Venice in late summer, the Berlinale also builds up the business side of the festival, the European Film Market, and a record number of movie companies and distributors are expected in Berlin this year.
The US script writers' strike and its impact on film and TV production in Hollywood has helped to boost this year's European Film Market, with many in the industry expecting strong interest from the US movie sector.
Unusual among major film festivals, the Berlinale opens its doors to the general public. This, combined with the sheer volume of movies screened, means that the Berlinale has the biggest audience of any film festival in the world. A total of 26 movies have been selected for the Berlinale's main competition including movies from Iran, China, Europe, Japan, Brazil, Mexico and the United States.
Previewing the festival, the dpa International Service in English offers a special package of features, due to run on the wire shortly, with the following items:
Berlin - OVERVIEW: Berlin Film Festival to celebrate music and film. By Andrew McCathie (800 words/Germany-Cinema/after 0500)
Berlin - EXTRA: The 26 films in the 58th Berlinale's main competition (425 words/Germany-Cinema/after 0500)
Madrid - FEATURE: New Latin American film makes presence felt in festivals. By Claudia Regina Martinez (650 words/Germany-Cinema/ LatinAmerica /after 0500)
Los Angeles - FEATURE: Film company with a conscience makes money and message. By Andy Goldberg (750 words/Germany-Cinema/Hollywood/after 0500)
Rome - FEATURE: Italian cinema struggles to match greatness of past masters. By Peter Mayer (750 words/Germany-Cinema/Italy/after 0500)
Beijing - FEATURE: Chinese director adapts true tale of trust, love. By Bill Smith (800 words/Germany-Cinema/China/after 0500)
Taipei - FEATURE: Taiwan's film makers find it hard to survive. By David Chang (750 words/Germany-Cinema/Taiwan/after 0500)
Berlin - FEATURE: Polish veteran Wajda flies flag for Eastern Europe. By Mike Swanson (520 words/Germany-Cinema/Poland/after 0500)
Berlin - FEATURE: Berlinale becomes the place for doing business. By Andrew McCathie (650 words/Germany-Cinema/Business/after 0500)