BERLIN – A new movie from Billy Bob Thornton and a turn as Marie Antoinette by Diane Kruger will rub shoulders with offerings from Asia to Africa at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.
Organizers on Tuesday presented the program for the event, the first of the year’s major European film festivals, which runs Feb. 9-19.
Outside the main competition, highlights include Meryl Streep being honoured for her lifetime achievement; Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, the Bosnian war movie “In the Land of Blood and Honey”; and documentaries and discussions on the Arab world in the wake of the past year’s upheaval.
“There are a lot of films in this festival about changes happening in the world,” festival director Dieter Kosslick said.
The competition for the festival’s top Golden Bear award opens with French director Benoit Jacquot’s “Farewell My Queen,” a drama centring on the drama inside the queen’s palace as the French Revolution broke out, and starring Kruger as Marie Antoinette.
Thornton both directs and stars in “Jayne Mansfield’s Car,” a 1960s drama that also features John Hurt, Robert Duvall and Kevin Bacon.
Other entries range from Indonesian director Edwin’s “Postcards From The Zoo,” the story of a girl raised by a giraffe keeper, to “Caesar Must Die,” from Italian brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, following an effort to stage a Shakespeare play at a Rome prison.
Last year’s Golden Bear went to Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation,” which also swept the festival’s acting awards and has been nominated for an Oscar in the foreign-language category this year.
Farhadi is a member of the eight-member jury that will choose this year’s winners. Led by British director Mike Leigh, it also includes actor Jake Gyllenhaal; photographer and filmmaker Anton Corbijn; French director Francois Ozon; and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.