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Fest hatches ‘Hitch’

Berlin may add Smith pic; 'Kinsey' to close

LONDON — Bill Condon’s “Kinsey” will close the Berlin Film Festival on Feb. 20 and has been confirmed for competition, with local speculation pushing Will Smith starrer “Hitch” as a possible surprise addition to the 11 entries unveiled Dec. 23.

Other new competition titles are tipped to include “The Hidden Blade,” vet Yoji Yamada’s second samurai outing after Oscar nominee “The Twilight Samurai.” Pic opened the Tokyo Film Festival and sold to most major territories at the AFM. It will screen as part of a tribute to Shochiku, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year.

Another likely competition title is Sweden’s Oscar entry, Kay Pollak’s “As It Is in Heaven,” which was nominated in eight categories for the country’s Golden Bug Awards Jan. 4. Pic, starring Michael Nyquist, concerns a world-class conductor who returns to his hometown after an emotional breakdown. Pollak’s first film in 18 years has been a hit in Sweden since its September release.

Other pics include Jacques Audiard’s “De battre mon coeur s’est arrete” and Alain Corneau’s “Les mots bleus,” from France; Jorge Ramirez-Suarez’s $3.2 million political thriller “Rabbit on the Moon,” a Mexico-U.K. co-production that screened at the AFI fest and AFM last year; and Florian Gallenberger’s debut feature, “Shadows of Time,” a sumptuously shot slice of Asian melodrama that first screened at Toronto in the Special Presentation section.

These may be joined by Turkish-born Italo arthouse darling Ferzan Ozpetek’s “Hungry Heart” (Cuore sacro) and Tsai Ming-Liang’s risque Taiwanese musical “Wayward Wind.”

“Tickets,” three stories directed by Ken Loach, Ermanno Olmi and Abbas Kiarostami set on a train travelling from Northern Europe toward Rome, may screen out of competition at the fest, which runs Feb. 10-20.

Sexuality is shaping up as one of the main themes of this year’s event.

Berlinale topper Dieter Kosslick said sex runs through the competition in films such as “Kinsey” and “In Asylum,” and in Panorama selections such as “Inside Deep Throat,” a doc about the porn film, and “Maennerhelden und Schwule Nazis,” a doc by German Rosa von Praunheim about modern-day gay neo-Nazis as well as gays in the Third Reich.

(Ed Meza contributed to this story.)

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