The pic’s high-profile ensemble cast boasts Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett.
“Over five million cultural assets stolen by the Nazis were returned to their countries of origin in the years following World War II. As the recent discovery in Munich demonstrates, the art theft of that time is as current as ever,” said Berlinale topper Dieter Kosslick. “‘The Monuments Men’ finally gives this little-known subject a worldwide audience.”
A German-U.S. co-pro, “The Monuments Men” turns on an unlikely WWII platoon, tasked by the Allies with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. The Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1,000 years of culture. The collection of found objects allegedly includes masterpieces by Marc Chagall, Max Liebermann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Oskar Kokoschka, Edvard Munch, Emil Nolde and Albrecht Durer.
Clooney and Grant Heslov produced and wrote the film, based on Robert M. Edsel’s book. The pair last teamed on “Argo,” which won last year’s best picture Oscar.
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Clooney has been a frequent guest of the Berlinale. He previously presented “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” at Berlin in 2003.
Lensing on the film took place at Studio Babelsberg, in the Goslar region and in Berlin, among other locations.
20th Century Fox is set to release the pic in Germany on Feb. 20. Sony has U.S. rights and will roll out the film on Feb. 7.