We knew that Isabella Rossellini would be presiding over the International Jury of the 61st Berlinale, running February 10 through 20. Today, the festival's announced that the other Jury members are producer Jan Chapman, actress Nina Hoss, actor, producer and director Aamir Khan, director Guy Maddin, costume designer Sandy Powell and: "The Berlinale is holding a place open in the Jury for Jafar Panahi and in doing so wants to signalize its support for his struggle for freedom."
This fine gaggle will determine who'll be taking home the Golden and Silver Bears. Neil Young's already laid out his odds: "With the exception of Bela Tarr — whose Nietzsche-inspired Turin Horse will apparently be his final film — there's a disappointing lack of 'heavy hitters' in this year's Berlinale competition. And with Iranian cinema in the spotlight like never before (thanks to the incarceration of Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof), the front-runner has to be Nader and Simin: A Separation from Asghar Farhadi." See how the rest of the lineup fares here.
And today sees one more lineup: "As part of the Official Program, this year's Berlinale Special will be presenting recent works by contemporary filmmakers and film portraits of outstanding personalities. In memory of Italian director Mario Monicelli, who died this past November, the Berlinale will screen Il Marchese del Grillo, for which Monicelli won a Silver Bear in 1982." Also lined up:
BERLINALE SPECIAL: GALA SCREENINGS IN THE FRIEDRICHSTADTPALAST
The King's Speech, Great Britain / Australia, by Tom Hooper (The Damned United), with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce. German premiere.
Late Bloomers, France, by Julie Gavras (Blame it on Fidel), with Isabella Rossellini, William Hurt, Joanna Lumley, Simon Callow. World premiere. Image above. From Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa: "Co-written by the director and Olivier Dazat, the film, like all romantic comedies, revolves around a man and woman who love each other but are complete opposites. So, despite their strong feelings, Adam and Mary split up in order to rediscover each other. But our protagonists are not the usual 20 or 30-year-olds, but 60-somethings. These lively 60-odd-year-olds brilliantly juggle children, grandchildren, work and friends with their attendant worries and joys. Until the day when Mary and Adam realise they belong to the elderly age group, to their great surprise…"
Sing Your Song, USA (documentary). A film by Susanne Rostock about Harry Belafonte. International premiere. "The film is less a true documentary that examines a noteworthy life than a call to action for viewers to emulate Belafonte's example of engaging with the world's problems and searching for solutions no matter how long-range they may be," writes the Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt from Sundance. "Belafonte put his considerable weight behind the project, his daughter is among the producers, and he is the source for many of its rich anecdotes so the film teeters on the brink of hagiography. What rescues it from self-aggrandizement is how the film functions as an extension of the Belafonte himself: The film catches a man who has spent a lifetime practicing what he preaches. He has put his butt on the line in Ethiopia and Haiti as well as Alabama and Mississippi."
Zhao Shi Gu Er (Sacrifice), People's Republic of China, by Chen Kaige (Mei Lanfang [Forever Enthralled], Wu Ji [The Promise]), with Ge You, Wang Xue Qi, Fan Bing Bing, Huang Xiao Ming. International premiere."Inarguably the film is a commercial success," reported Doriah Morrison for the Global Times in December, "although from an artistic perspective, it falls short, at least to me and most fans of the director, who were deeply moved by Farewell My Concubine and deeply disappointed with his latest work."
Gianni e le donne (The Salt of Life), Italy, by Gianni di Gregorio (Mid-August Lunch), with Gianni di Gregorio, Valeria De Franciscis Bendoni, Alfonso Santagata, Aylin Prandi. International premiere. There's a synopsis at filmitalia.org. Gianni, 60, is living a fine, routine life until: "One day, his friend Alfonso makes him open his eyes: all his peers, even those much older than him, behind the facade of respectability, have a lover. Appalled by the discovery, Gianni tries to do something."
Escuchando al Juez Garzón, Spain (documentary), by Isabel Coixet (Elegy, My Life Without Me). World premiere. Baltasar Garzón, a judge seated on Spain's Central Criminal Court, "was indicted in April 2010 for exceeding his authority when investigating crimes committed by the Franco regime that were included in an amnesty, and suspended on 14 May 2010, pending trial. He has been given permission to work at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for 7 months from May 2010."
In memoriam: Il Marchese del Grillo, Italy/France (Silver Bear Best Director 1982), by Mario Monicelli (Fathers and Sons, Caro Michele), with Alberto Sordi, Caroline Berg, Andrea Bevilacqua. Also the winner of two David di Donatello awards, the film "depicts some episodes of the life of a noble in the Rome of the early 19th century. Loosely based on folklore accounts about the real Onofrio del Grillo (who actually lived in the 18th century), this character plays a number of pranks, one even involving Pope Pius VII."
Toast, Great Britain, by SJ Clarkson (feature debut), with Helena Bonham Carter, Ken Stott, Victoria Hamilton, Freddie Highmore. German premiere. Adapted from Nigel Slater's autobiographical novel by screenwriter Lee Hall (Billie Elliot), Toast was originally broadcast on the BBC. From the Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency: "Starring Helena Bonham Carter as Nigel's stepmother and Freddie Highmore as the 15-year-old Nigel with Ken Stott as Nigel's father and Victoria Hamilton as his mother, Toast is an evocation of all the tastes and smells that the food writer associated with his painful coming of age. A nostalgia trip through everything edible in 1960's Britain set to the songs of Dusty Springfield."