Rolling Stones film to open Berlinale

( dpa ) - The 58th Berlin Film Festival kicks off Thursday with the world premiere of Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert movie.

Scorsese along with Mick Jagger and the rest of the Stones will join a long list of international stars on the red carpet at this year's festival which will be a celebration of music and film.

This includes Madonna, Julia Roberts, Eric Bana, Penelope Cruz, Neil Young, Ben Kingsley, Daniel Day-Lewis and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

"It will somehow be a music Berlinale," said Berlin Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick with the Berlinale one of the world's top three film festivals.

Also expected in Berlin for the festival will be Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, with women both as directors and performers also playing a prominent role at the Berlinale.

More than 20 movies have been selected for the Berlinale's main competition with Greek-born director Constantin Costa-Gavras and his jury announcing the winner of the festival's prestigious Golden Bear at a Hollywood-style gala set down for February 16.

Included in the line up competing for the top awards are flicks from Iran, Europe, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, the US and Asia.

Indeed, this year's festival will again showcase new cinema from Asia including the world premiere of leading Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai's Zuo You (In Love We Trust).

Wang Xiaoshuai won a Silver Bear at the 2001 Berlinale for Beijing Bicycle, his portrayal of life in the new China.

The list of films also includes famed Hong Kong-born director Johnnie To's (Man Jeuk) Sparrow about a Hong Kong sparrow (pickpocket), and South Korean director Hong Sangsoo's Bam gua Nat (Night and Day). His critically acclaimed Woman on the Beach was shown during last year's Berlinale.

Japanese director Yoji Yamada's Kabei (Kabei - Our Mother), starring Sayuri Yoshinaga, Mitsugoro Bando, Tadanobu Asano is also in the running for a Gold Bear.

This year's Berlinale will also mark a series of anniversaries, including the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding and the 40th anniversary of the anti-war movement in the US unleashed by the Vietnam conflict.

The Israeli anniversary also comes at a time of growing international recognition of the country's movie makers, in particular at the world's leading film festivals.

Apart from Jerusalem-born Amos Kollek's latest movie Restless, the Berlinale will screen a documentary from Israeli director Dror Moreh about his nation's former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who remains in a coma.

Israeli director Eran Riklis' Lemon Tree which stars Palestinian leading actress Hiam Abbass in the role of a Palestinian woman who decides to take on the Israeli authorities is also to be shown at the festival.

The list of films to be shown as part of the Berlinale special War at Home - The Vietnam War in US Cinema includes Robert Altman's black comedy about American doctors on the frontline M*A*S*H, Emile de Antonio's experimental In the Year of the Pig and Mike Nichols' Catch 22, which tells of the madness of war.

Apart from Scorsese's Rolling Stones' documentary Shine a Light, pop icon Madonna's directing debut, Filth and Wisdom, a comedy about the dreams of ordinary people and starring Richard E Grant is also to have its world premiere in Berlin.

The Berlinale is also to screen Steven Sebring's Patti Smith: Dream of Life, a homage to the American rock star.

Despite having developed a reputation for never shying away from tough international issues, the Berlinale is this year a little less political than in previous years.

But as has been in the case with other leading festivals, the war in Iraq again comes under the spotlight in Berlin with the world premiere of Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris' movie about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, S.O.P. Standard Operating Procedure.

The movie from Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alviw's film charting the musical career of the Iraqi band Acrassicauda from the fall of Saddam Hussein to the present in a sense draws politics together with the festival's musical theme.

A big contingent of movies from the US has also been lined up for Berlin including Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as a ruthless oil baron.There Will Be Blood has already received eight nominations for next month's Academy Awards.

Carrying the flag at the Berlinale for Central European cinema will be veteran Polish director Andrzej Wajda's Katyn, which delves into one of the darkest moments in Poland's history - the massacre of thousands of Polish war prisoners by the Soviet secret service in 1940.

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