'Love and Honor' to kick off Special program

Bruce McDonald’s Canadian film “The Tracey Fragments,” which explores a 15-year-old girl’s fragmented emotional world, will open the main section of the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama sidebar, organizers announced Tuesday.

Fest also unveiled the openers for the sidebar’s special and documentary sections.

Special will kick off with “Bushi no ichibun” (Love and Honor) by Japanese director Yoji Yamada. Pic is the third installment in his samurai trilogy — the first two parts were screened in the Berlinale competition sections of 2003 and 2005 — and focuses on a young samurai (Takuya Kimura) who is food taster for a lord.

Documentary section, Panorama Dokumente, will showcase 17 films, including 12 world premieres.

“Big names and themes relating to politics, music, art and fashion will characterize this year’s Panorama Dokumente,” said section head Wieland Speck.

It opens with “Strange Culture” by American film essayist Lynn Hershman Leeson, who covers the paranoid reaction of U.S. security authorities in the case of Steve Kurtz, a biogenetics professor suspected of terrorism. Thomas Jay Ryan and Tilda Swinton play Kurtz and his wife, while Kurtz himself recounts his harrowing experiences with the FBI.

New York filmmaker Stephen Kijak (“Cinemania”) will present “Scott Walker — 30 Century Man,” a look at the influential and enigmatic musician, featuring interviews with Brian Eno, Marc Almond and David Bowie, who produced the film.

Portraits of American artists include the four-hour “Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film,” by American helmer Ric Burns and featuring commentary by Dennis Hopper, Bob Dylan, Salvador Dali, Edie Sedgwick and others; and “This Filthy World,” Jeff Garlin’s look at the work of John Waters.

Vladimir Ivanov’s “Moskva. Pride ’06” chronicles the brutal attack on a activists at Moscow’s first gay pride demonstration.

Works showcasing gay, lesbian and transgender themes include “Fucking Different New York,” a follow up to last year’s Panorama screener “Fucking Different,” which focuses on Berlin’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities.

The history of queer film is the central theme of Andre Schaefer’s “Schau mir in die Augen Kleiner,” featuring Stephen Frears, Gus Van Sant, Tilda Swinton and Francois Ozon. Pic was produced by German-Gallic pubcaster Arte, which will broadcast the Berlinale’s Teddy Award queer film prize.

Two docs showcase fashion industry giants: “Celebration” by Olivier Meyrou, who won the Teddy in 2006 with his doc “Beyond Hatred,” profiles Yves Saint Laurent, while Rodolphe Marconi takes an intimate look at the force behind Chanel as a landmark fashion house in “Lagerfeld Confidential.”

A number of works look at music in Germany. In Uli M. Schueppel’s “BerlinSong,” young musicians from around the world are drawn to Berlin’s creative atmosphere and an alternative lifestyle without consumerism and status symbols.

With “Tamara,” Peter Kahane showcases late East German rock singer Tamara Danz.

“Der rote Elvis” by Leopold Gruen is the extraordinary story of the late American singer and entertainer Dean Reed, who achieved huge stardom in East Germany after settling there in 1973.

More serious political fare is chronicled in Daniel Gordon’s “Crossing the Line,” which recounts the stories of four American soldiers who defected to North Korea in 1962; and “Miss Gulag,” Maria Yatskova’s documentary about three women incarcerated in a Siberian gulag.

The Schwarze Filmschaffende Deutschland (Blacks in Film Germany), established at last year’s Panorama, will present a block of six short films entitled “Neue bilder,” as well as a photo exhibition at the Independent Lounge K44.

Lucy Walker’s “Blindsight” documents a climb up Mount Everest by pupils of Tibet’s only school for the blind. Dolby Screen Talk will make it possible for blind and visually impaired moviegoers to enjoy the screening.

A joint project by international filmmakers, “Invisibles” focuses on the sufferings of the Third World, including displacement in areas of conflict in South America, recruitment of child soldiers in Africa and the ravages of treatable but “unprofitable” diseases. Pic was produced by Javier Bardem and directed by Isabel Coixet, Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Mariano Barroso, Javier Corcuera and Wim Wenders.

The full Panorama program has yet to be announced. Berlin runs Feb. 8 to 18.

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