BERLIN — Just a few hours before today’s start of the Berlin Film Festival, organizers pulled Chris Terrio’s Glenn Close starrer “Heights” from the Competition section and replaced it with Lajos Koltai’s directorial debut “Fateless.”
Berlinale execs declined to explain the last-minute switch, offering only a written statement from fest topper Dieter Kosslick: “We are happy that we could still include the film at this very last moment.”
“Heights,” produced by Merchant Ivory and released Stateside by Sony Pictures Classics, screened in the Premieres section of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It would have been one of five films screening out of competition in the 26-title main Competition section.
“Fateless,” based on Hungarian Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertesz’s book about Budapest’s Jewish community during the Nazi occupation, is the only Hungarian title in the main section.
Kertesz also wrote the screenplay, which depicts the Holocaust from the perspective of an adolescent boy.
Although it’s his first film as a director, Koltai has had a long career as a cinematographer and worked with Hungarian Istvan Szabo on “Being Julia,” “Taking Sides,” “Sunshine” and 1981’s “Mephisto.” Koltai was nominated for an Oscar in 2001 for his work on Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Malena.”
In related news, European industry reps met in Berlin on Wednesday for the second Encounter of European Film Commissions.
Greeted by Kosslick and Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit on the eve of the Berlinale, more than 100 reps from 22 countries gathered for the daylong event, which introduced the new European Film Commissions Network Assn., which seeks to improve co-operation among regional Euro film commissions.