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Berlin Film Festival: New Films by Francois Ozon, Fatih Akin, Denis Cote in Competition

New films by Francois Ozon, Fatih Akin and Denis Cote are among the titles that will compete for the Golden Bear at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival.

German director Akin’s “Der Goldene Handschuh” (“The Golden Glove”) and French helmer Ozon’s “Grâce à dieu” (“By the Grace of God”) were announced by the Berlinale in its first batch of competition films Thursday. Akin won the Golden Bear in 2004 with “Head-On.”

The lineup also includes “Der Boden unter den Fuessen” (“The Ground Beneath My Feet”) by Austrian director Marie Kreutzer; “Répertoire des villes disparues” (“Ghost Town Anthology”) by Canadian director Cote; “Ich war zuhause, aber” (“I Was at Home, But”) by German director Angela Schanelec; and “Kız Kardeşler” (“A Tale of Three Sisters”) by Turkish helmer Emin Alper.

All six competition films unveiled Thursday will have their world premieres in Berlin with the exception of “By the Grace of God,” which gets its international premiere at the festival.

“By the Grace of God,” which is being sold by Playtime, centers on Alexandre, who learns that the priest who abused him as a child is still working with kids. He and two other victims band together to “lift the burden of silence.” Previous Ozon movies include “Water Drops on Burning Rocks,” “Swimming Pool” and “8 Women.”

“The Golden Glove” is inspired by the real-life case of a serial killer who murdered and dismembered four prostitutes in Hamburg’s red light district in the 1970s. The film is adapted from Heinz Strunk’s novel. Diane Kruger won best actress at last year’s Cannes for Akin’s “In the Fade,” which also won the Golden Globe for foreign-language film.

Horror title “Ghost Town Anthology,” repped by Films Boutique, is set in a remote town in Quebec, where, following the death of a young man in a road accident, the residents fear “an undefinable evil is haunting the region.” Cote was previously in competition in Berlin with “Vic + Flo Saw a Bear” and “Boris Without Beatrice.”

“A Tale of Three Sisters” follows three sisters from a poor village in Turkey who are placed with more affluent foster parents in the hope of improving their lives. Alper’s previous films include “Beyond the Hill,” which played in Berlin’s Forum section, and “Frenzy,” which won the special jury prize at Venice.

“I Was at Home, But…” is about a teenage boy who disappears from home after the death of his father. Schanelec’s past films include “Places in Cities” and “Marseille,” which both played in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section, and “The Dreamed Path,” which screened at Locarno.

“The Ground Beneath My Feet,” which is being sold by Picture Tree Intl., centers on a high-powered business consultant whose grip on reality slips away after a family crisis. Kreutzer’s “The Fatherless” premiered in Berlin’s Panorama Special sidebar and received a special mention as best first feature.

Three titles for the Berlinale Special section were also announced: U.S. documentary “Watergate”; German-Austrian miniseries “Brecht,” and India-produced “Gully Boy,” which will have a gala screening.

“Watergate,” which premiered at Telluride and aired on History, looks at the scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon. Director Charles Ferguson helmed the Academy Award-winning “Inside Job” and the Oscar-nominated “No End in Sight.”

Danish director Lone Scherfig’s “The Kindness of Strangers,” an English-language ensemble piece that takes place in a New York restaurant, was previously announced as the festival’s Feb. 7 opener. Oscar-winning French actress Juliette Binoche will oversee the main competition jury.

The 2019 Berlinale will be the last one under the aegis of Dieter Kosslick, who has run the festival for nearly two decades. His job will be split into two following his departure, with Carlo Chatrian of the Locarno fest taking charge of the artistic side and Mariette Rissenbeek assuming the title of executive director.

The 69th Berlin Film Festival runs Feb. 7-17.

In Competition

“The Ground Beneath My Feet” (Austria)
Dir: Marie Kreutzer

“The Golden Glove” (Germany/France)
Dir: Fatih Akin

“By the Grace of God” (France)
Dir: Francois Ozon

“I Was at Home, But” (Germany/Serbia)
Dir: Angela Schanelec

“A Tale of Three Sisters” (Turkey/Germany/Netherlands/Greece)
Dir: Emin Alper

“Ghost Town Anthology” (Canada)
Dir: Denis Cote

Berlinale Special

“Gully Boy” (India”)
Dir: Zoya Akhtar

“Brecht” (Germany/Austria)
Dir: Heinrich Breloer

“Watergate” (U.S.)
Dir: Charles Ferguson

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