Berlin Film Festival 2005

Though its most coveted prize, the Golden Bear, ended up going to “Carmen in Khayelitsha,” a version of Bizet’s opera filmed by a British theater director in an obscure South African dialect and cast entirely with screen newcomers, Hollywood still turned out in force for the 55th installment of the Berlin International Film Festival.

Right from the fest’s opening gala, the Berlinale Palast’s red carpet was jammed with high-wattage stars ranging from Kristin Scott Thomas and Joseph Fiennes (co-stars of the French-produced, English-language “Man to Man”) to Cate Blanchett and Anjelica Huston (in town to launch “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”) to former pop superstar George Michael, supporting a new documentary about his life that premiered at the festival.

A huge, local print and TV campaign heralded “Hitch” (known in German as “Hitch: Der Date Doktor”) and its star, Will Smith, while much attention was also focused on “Kinsey” (not known in German as “Kinsey: Der Sex Doktor), with both Liam Neeson and Bill Condon on hand to give it a push. And while “Thumbsucker” co-star Keanu Reeves found himself weathering a series of bizarre questions about musicianship and dentistry (though, curiously, not thumb sucking) during pic’s press conference, everyone felt “In Good Company” by the time Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace arrived for the Euro premiere of Paul Weitz’ workplace dramedy.

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