Movies by Iranian and Peruvian directors will compete for the Berlin International Film Festival's top prize this year, alongside new offerings starring Renee Zellweger, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench and others, organizers said Tuesday.
The Berlinale, the first of the year's major European film festivals, runs from Feb. 5-15.
Eighteen films will compete for the main Golden Bear prize, while another eight will show out of competition, including the Oscar-nominated Holocaust-themed drama "The Reader," starring Kate Winslet.
Festival director Dieter Kosslick said many films this year reflect the impact of globalization on people's lives.
He said the global economic crisis has given new relevance to films such as Tom Tykwer's "The International," starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, which opens the festival next week and traces financial transactions that fuel war and terrorism.
"Many films suddenly reflect reality better than anything else," Kosslick said at a news conference. "Reality has caught up with fiction this year."
The festival program has a typically diverse geographical reach, including films by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's "About Elly," "The Milk of Sorrow" by Peruvian-born Claudia Llosa, and Chinese director Chen Kaige's "Forever Enthralled."
The latest movie by Stephen Frears, the British director of "The Queen," is set to make its debut. "Cheri," a romantic drama set in 1920s France, stars Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates.
France's Bertrand Tavernier is bringing a new U.S.-set drama, "In The Electric Mist," starring Jones, to the festival. Another Frenchman, Francois Ozon, is competing with "Ricky" and veteran Polish director Andrzej Wajda contributes his latest film, "Tatarak."
Dench stars alongside Jude Law and Steve Buscemi in Sally Potter's "Rage." Zellweger plays a 1950s divorcee embarking on a road trip in search of a wealthy husband in Richard Loncraine's "My One And Only."
Other U.S. entries in the competition come from Oren Moverman - "The Messenger," starring Woody Harrelson - and Mitchell Lichtenstein. He contributes "Happy Tears," starring Demi Moore.
Director Kosslick said he did not expect the global economic crisis to have any direct effect on the festival, which has not seen any sponsors depart.
The winner will be chosen by a seven-person international jury under British actress Tilda Swinton.
Last year's Golden Bear went to "Elite Squad" by Brazilian director Jose Padilha.
The movies being shown this year at the Berlin film festival
A list of the movies being shown in the official program at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, which runs Feb. 5-15.
"Alle Anderen" ("Everyone Else"), director Maren Ade.
"Cheri," Stephen Frears.
"Darbareye Elly" ("About Elly"), Asghar Farhadi.
"Forever Enthralled," Chen Kaige.
"Gigante," Adrain Biniez.
"Happy Tears," Mitchell Lichtenstein.
"In The Electric Mist," Bertrand Tavernier.
"Katalin Varga," Peter Strickland.
"Lille Soldat" ("Little Soldier"), Annette K. Olesen.
"London River," Rachid Bouchareb.
"Mammoth," Lukas Moodysson.
"The Messenger," Oren Moverman.
"My One and Only," Richard Loncraine.
"Rage," Sally Potter.
"Ricky," Francois Ozon.
"Storm," Hans-Christian Schmid.
"Tatarak," Andrzej Wajda.
"La teta asustada" ("The Milk of Sorrow"), Claudia Llosa.
Out of competition:
"Germany '09 - 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation," various directors.
"I skoni tou chronou" ("The Dust of Time"), Theo Angelopoulos.
"Eden a l'ouest" ("Eden Is West"), Constantin Costa-Gavras.
"The International," Tom Tykwer.
"Notorious," George Tillman Jr.
"Pink Panther 2," Harald Zwart.
"The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," Rebecca Miller.
"The Reader," Stephen Daldry.