Berlin buzz builds

Fest to pack plenty of Euro, U.S. star power

BERLIN — Venerable French helmers Claude Chabrol and Bertrand Tavernier will be among European directors presenting films in competition at the 49th Berlin Intl. Film Festival (Feb. 10-21), Berlinale officials confirmed.

Chabrol’s “Au coeur du mensonge” (The Color of Lies) follows a homicide investigation in a small Breton village. Tavern-ier’s “Ca commence aujourd’hui” (It Starts Today) explores the consequences of cutbacks at a preschool in northern France. A third Gallic entry to the competition is novice helmer Thomas Vincent’s “Karnaval,” a look at racial and ethnic intolerance at a carnival in Dunkirk.

As more of the program is confirmed, attention has turned to the jury and star power expected to attend.

According to sources, this year’s jury will include Portuguese producer Paulo Branco, Israeli director Assi Dayan, former head of Cannes Director’s Fortnight Pierre-Henri Deleau, Hong Kong action star Michelle Yeoh, Spanish actress Angela Molina and German director Katja von Garnier.

Star power, a weakness last year, may well have been remedied. Bruce Willis is set to attend for “Breakfast of Champions,” skedded for Feb. 13. Terrence Malick, director of “The Thin Red Line,” set to play on the 12th, is expected in town alongside Edward Norton, and Nick Nolte, according to sources.

Joel Schumacher and Nicholas Cage for “8 MM,” skedded for the 20th, also have reportedly agreed to come.

Other U.S. heavyweights considered a fairly safe bet are Meryl Streep for “One True Thing.” Steven Spielberg himself, exec producer for Holocaust docu, “The Last Days,” is being wooed by the fest.

Sandrine Bonnaire and Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi from Chabrol’s film are also hotly rumoured to attend, as are Maria Schrader, Detlev Buck and Heike Makatsch the stars of the Berlin opener “Aimée and Jaguar.”

Directors from Spain, Portugal, Denmark, the U.K., Switzerland and Turkey will also travel to Berlin:

Included are Spanish helmer Fernando Trueba’s “La nina de tus ojos” (The Girl of Your Dreams); Victoria Abril and Javier Bardem in “Entre las piernas” (Between Your Legs), from fellow Spaniard Manuel Gomez Pereira. “Gloria,” the first feature by Portuguese director Manuela Viegas;

Also, “Mifunes Sidste Sang” (Mifune’s Last Chant), from Danish helmer Soren Kragh-Jacobsen; Swiss director Francis Reusser’s “La guerre dans le Haut-Pays”; “Simon Magus” from British helmer Ben Hopkins; and Turkish director Yesmin Ustaoglu’s “Guenese Yolculuk” (Journey to the Sun).

East Euro Entries

Festival officials have also announced the participation of a number of Central and Eastern European films in the Berlinale’s Panorama section.

Those films include “Aila” (The Family), from Russian helmers Rustam Ibragimbekov and Ramiz Hassanoglu Mirzoev; Russian director Aleksandr Rogoschkin’s “Blokpost”; “Aksuat,” from Kazakstani director Serik Aprymov; “Historia Kina W Popielawach” from Polish director Jan Jakub Kolski; Romanian helmer Gabor Tompa’s “Kinai Vedelem” (Chinese Defense); and “Sled Kraja Na Svet” (After the End of the World), from Bulgarian director Ivan Nitchev.