Edith Piaf opens festival brimming with glamour
by Camillo de Marco
The original title of the highly anticipated film, La Môme (“The Girl”), was the nickname of the story’s subject, renowned French singer Edith Piaf, and producer Alain Goldman describes it as a great love story, a musical, a commercial, tragic and sweepingly romantic international and French film. In other words, a great film about a great woman (featuring a notable cast led by Marion Cotillard and Gerard Depardieu).
Numerous guests of German and world cinema will walk down the festival’s red carpet this evening before the Berlinale-Palast, from Wim Wenders to Bruno Ganz, Moritz Bleibtreu to Doris Doerrie, Hanna Schygulla, Bernd Eichinger, Martina Gedeck, Tom Tykwer, Franka Potente, Nadja Uhl.
Lending an additional touch of glamour will be Hollywood stars such as Robert De Niro (direction of competition title The Good Shepherd), Clint Eastwood (with his out-of-competition film Letters From Iwo Jima), Matt Damon, Ben Kingsley, Cate Blanchett, Antonio Banderas and Sharon Stone.
However, there remains, as a backdrop to the event, the controversy stirred up less than one month ago by Kosslick who, in German publication Promedia, attacked festivals that are starting to pay big stars colossal sums for their attendance. He was referring to Dubai and the RomeFilmFest, which, during last year’s Berlin festival, organised an event near Potsdamer Platz.
There are an overall 22 films vying for the Golden Bear, of which 11 are European productions or co-productions (see news). Along with the US and France, with four titles each, other contenders come from Germany, Italia, China (2), South Korea (2), Great Britain, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Belgium, Argentina, Brazil and Israel.
The competition jury will be headed by president Paul Schrader and made up of actors and critics Hiam Abbass, Mario Adorf, Gael García Bernal, Willem Dafoe, Nansun Shi and Molly Malene Stensgaard.
Of note, the Berlinale Special section features the latest film by brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, The Lark Farm [trailer], on the 1915 massacre of the Armenians, which has stirred up resentment in Turkey.
The Golden Bear Career Award will be presented to US director Arthur Penn (84) while the Berlinale’s retrospective will be on silent films. The 2007 Special Teddy – a prize handed out since 1987 to gay and lesbian-themed films – will go to Helmut Berger (62) for his career.
Lastly, a tribute will be paid to Luchino Visconti during the February 17 awards ceremony, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth.
(Translated from Italian)