Berlin’s in the swim

'Aquatic' joins competish; Emmerich tops jury

BERLIN — Teutonic helmer Roland Emmerich has been tapped to head the Berlin Intl. Film Festival’s International Jury.

In addition, Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic,” starring Bill Murray, is among 11 films so far selected for competition. Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums” also unspooled in competition at the Berlinale.

Emmerich, a filmmaker with an eye for epic science fiction and historical tales, began his international career with Cold War sci-fi pic “The Noah’s Ark Principle,” which screened at the Berlinale in 1984. He broke into the big league with 1994’s “Stargate” and followed that pic with “Independence Day,” “Godzilla,” “The Patriot” and this summer’s “The Day After Tomorrow.”

Emmerich recently launched Reelmachine, a Munich-based production company with partner Ossi von Richthofen, and inked a financing deal with Teutonic film financier VIP for a number of upcoming projects, including “The Girls Next Door” and “The Soul of the Age.”

The fest, which runs Feb. 10-12, will include three German titles, including “Ghosts” from Christian Petzold (“The State I Am In”), about a French woman whose daughter was abducted as a small child in Berlin; after years of uncertainty, she thinks she has finally found her when she spots a vagrant young woman.

Marc Rothemund’s “Sophie Scholl — Hope and Resistance” portrays the last six days in the life of the young woman who co-founded the anti-fascist resistance group “The White Rose” before she was executed by the Nazis in 1943.

In Hannes Stoehr’s episodic comedy “One Day in Europe” — set against the Champion League Finals — tourists in Moscow, Istanbul, Santiago de Compostela and Berlin fall prey to thieves while emotions boil over at all the locations. This German-Spanish coproduction features Erdal Yildiz, Florian Lukas and Miguel Lira, Boris Arquier.

Gallic fare

French entries include “The Walker of the Champ de Mars” by Robert Guediguian, about the last days of Francois Mitterrand as the former president reveals intimate secrets to a young journalist. Michel Bouquet plays Mitterrand.

In “Changing Times,” directed by Andre Techine, Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu are lovers who, after a separation of 30 years, meet again in Tangiers.

David Mackenzie’s U.S.-Irish coproduction “In Asylum” examines the self-destructiveness of an obsessive relationship in the prudish Britain of the 1950s: Natasha Richardson plays the wife of a psychiatrist who begins a passionate affair with one of her husband’s patients. Ian McKellen and Hugh Bonneville also star.

Mark Dornford-May has set his screen adaptation of Bizet’s opera “Carmen” — “Carmen in Khayelitsha” — in a South-African township. The film was shot entirely in the country’s official language Xhosa. In this South African directorial debut, the title role is played by the international opera star Pauline Malefane.

Another view of Africa is presented by “Hotel Rwanda,” a British-South African-Italian coproduction running as a European premiere.

Director Terry George tells the true story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle, Golden Globe-nommed for his perf) who during the civil war sheltered more than a thousand Tutsi refugees from the Hutu militia.

In “Peacock,” his directorial debut, Chinese cinematographer Gu Changwei (“Farewell, My Concubine”) looks at the daily life of a family in a small town in the province of Henan following the Cultural Revolution through the 1970s and ’80s.

Regis Wargnier’s “Man to Man” will open the Berlinale.

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