‘Prairie’ at home in Berlin

'Guantanamo' to compete at fest

Corrections were made to this article on Jan. 19, 2006.

Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” Michael Winterbottom’s “The Road to Guantanamo” and James McTeigue’s “V for Vendetta” will be among world premieres in the main Competition section at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. The previously announced “Snow Cake,” by Marc Evans, opens the fest Feb. 9.

Organizers have confirmed 23 of the 26 pics in the main section, with 14 new entries and 11 world preems in addition to the nine films already announced, offering an eclectic and timely selection of titles from around the globe.

Winterbottom, who won the Berlinale’s Golden Bear in 2002 for “In This World,” combines fiction, authentic reports and interviews in “The Road to Guantanamo,” which traces three British Muslims who were held for two years without being charged in a Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Altman’s latest is a backstage story about a legendary radio show that’s taken off the air after 30 years. Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Kline and John C. Reilly star.

“V for Vendetta,” penned by the Wachowski brothers, is a U.S.-German co-production starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving, based on Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s graphic novel about a vigilante waging war against a fascist British government.

“V” is screening out of competition (even though it’s in the main Competition section). Also screening out of competition are Bennett Miller’s “Capote” and Michael Gondry’s French pic “The Science of Sleep,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, about a young man who withdraws completely into his dreams.

Gondry’s docu “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” will unspool in the fest’s Panorama sidebar.

Among German pics in the Competition section are Matthias Glasner’s “The Free Will,” about a man who’s released from prison after serving 12 years for rape, and Valeska Grisebach’s “Sehnsucht,” starring amateur thesps in a love triangle set in eastern Germany.

Claude Chabrol’s world preeming “L’Ivresse du pouvoir” (Comedy of Power) stars Isabelle Huppert as a tough magistrate investigating a powerful corporate exec.

“Crime Novel,” Michele Placido’s adaptation of a novel by Judge Giancarlo De Cataldo, focuses on a dark chapter in Italian history involving the Mafia, terrorism, corruption and politics.

Pernille Fischer Christensen’s directorial debut, “En Soap,” a Danish-Swedish co-production, examines a tragicomic relationship between the owner of a beauty clinic and a transsexual.

From Austrian helmer Michael Glawogger comes “Slumming,” a black comedy about two yuppies who play nasty tricks on the unsuspecting until one practical joke turns out to have fatal consequences.

A bodyguard of a top politician who is so dedicated that he’s in danger of losing his own identity is the subject of Rodrigo Morena’s Argentine-Spanish-German drama “The Minder,” a pic supported by the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund.

From Iran, Rafi Pitts’ “It’s Winter” offers a look at living and working conditions on the outskirts of Tehran.

In “Isabella,” from Chinese helmer Pang Ho-cheung, a police officer in Macao is suddenly confronted with the fact that he is a young girl’s father. Although he’d like to continue living as a bachelor, his daughter insists on moving in with him.

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