Fest unveils Perspektive titles, pays tribute to Babelsberg

BERLIN — Dieter Kosslick is set to continue as director of the Berlin Film Festival when his current contract expires in 2013.

Germany’s Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media has asked Kosslick, who took the reins at the fest in 2001, to stay on for an additional three years, although a new contract has yet to be signed.

Kosslick has had a major impact on the Berlinale, putting a much greater focus on German cinema than his predecessor, Moritz de Hadeln, and also launching such initiatives as the educational Talent Campus and the World Cinema Fund, which supports filmmaking in less developed regions of the world.

Yet he has also disappointed a fare share of film critics with lineups that have failed to match the level of glamour and adulation of other festivals, such as Cannes and Venice, despite helping to launch such films as Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian hit “A Separation,” Bela Tarr’s “The Turin House” and Wim Wenders’ “Pina,” all of which are in the running for foreign Oscar nominations.

As for this year’s Berlinale, the fest’s German sidebar will be celebrating men.

Nearly all of the films so far selected for the Perspektive Deutsches Kino section revolve around males: from bromances to romances to guys who don’t like talking about themselves and women who wonder what makes a man a man.

The Perspektive opens with Katarina Peters’ documentary “Man for a Day,” in which a number of women transform themselves into men for a day.

Joachim Schoenfeld’s debut feature “Gegen Morgen” (Before Tomorrow), meanwhile, centers on two policemen, while in “Westerland,” author-director Tim Staffel adapts his own novel, “Jesus und Muhammed,” in another debut feature about two young men who fall in love and hole up together on an island for what becomes at times paradise, and at other times hell.

“What is remarkable this time is that all three feature films selected so far are works of directors who were way past 40 when they made their first full-length films,” said Perspektive director Linda Soeffker. “A broad spectrum and roundabout routes enrich the festival environment and cinema culture.”

Matthias Stoll’s “Sterben nicht vorgesehen,” one of two medium-long works from the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, is a loving portrait of his dead father. Centering on a female protagonist, Janis Mazuch’s “Tage in der Stadt” (Out Off) focuses on a woman who begins a new life after spending 13 years behind bars.

The Perspektive will also again screen the feature film winners of the Max Ophuels Award, handed out at Saarbruecken’s Max Ophuels Preis film festival (Jan. 16-22), as well as the winner of this year’s First Steps Award for documentary, “The Other Chelsea: A Story from Donetsk,” by Jakob Preuss.

The Berlinale, which runs Feb. 9-19, will also be celebrating Studio Babelsberg’s 100th anniversary.

One of the world’s oldest large-scale film studio complexes, Babelsberg is seen as the birthplace of German cinema.

In honor of the event, the Berlinale is presenting a special 10-pic series, Happy Birthday, Studio Babelsberg, including such titles as Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s “The Last Laugh,” Josef von Sternberg’s “The Blue Angel,” Konrad Wolf’s “Goya,” Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” and Stephen Daldry’s “The Reader.”

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