'Girls' Night,' 'Sliding Doors' vie for honors

BERLIN — A wide selection of films from Europe and Asia will compete for the Gold and Silver Bear trophies at the 48th Berlin Intl. Film Festival (Feb. 11-22).

In British director Nick Hurran’s “Girls’ Night,” which also stars Kris Kristofferson, Julie Waters and Brenda Blethyn play factory workers who travel to Las Vegas on their bingo winnings. Gwyneth Paltrow stars in “Sliding Doors,” a British-U.S. co-production directed by first-time helmer Peter Howitt.

French entries include musical “Jeanne et le garcon formidable” from Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, and Jacques Doillon’s “Trop (peu) d’amour.” Pic features Elise Perrier as a spirited 17-year-old girl caught up in a hopeless romance.

Isabella Rossellini, Maximilian Schell and Marianne Sagebrecht have roles in the Dutch-Belgian co-production “Left Luggage.” Directed by Jeroen Krabbe, the film stars Laura Fraser as a young Jewish woman in Antwerp in the 1970s who is forced to confront the aftereffects of the Holocaust.

In “La mirada del otro” from Spanish director Vicente Aranda, Laura Morante plays a woman seeking her identity through sexual experiences. Anneke von der Lippe has the title role in Danish helmer Nils Malmros’ “Barbara.” Based on the novel by Jorgen-Frantz Jacobsen, the pic is about a young widow who violates the moral code of her village. Russian director Valerij Todorovskij’s “Strana Gluchich” tells the tale of a woman hiding from Mafia thugs.

Among the Asian entries is Hayao Miyazaki’s animated pic “Mononoke Hime,” the most successful film ever shown in Japan. “Sada,” from Nobuhiko Obayashi, is set in Japan of the 1930s. “Hold You Tight,” the third film from Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan to compete in Berlin, deals with the breakup of a marriage.

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