Greek film heads for Berlinale’s Panorama

There will be a bit of local Greek color at the 55th Berlin International Film Festival with the screening of Constantinos Yiannaris’s «Hostage» in the out-of-competition Panorama section, which is also celebrating its 20th anniversary on the roster of the esteemed German event. Other films in this section, which is aimed at highlighting independent productions by promising newcomers as well as established auteurs from around the world, include: from France, «Crustaces et Coquillages» by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, and «Les Mauvais Joueurs» by Frederic Balekdjian; the joint Belgian/ French production «Ultranova» by Bouli Lanners; «Adam & Paul» by Ireland’s Lenny Abrahamson; the UK production «Love + Hate» by Dominic Savage; «Yes» by Sally Potter;  «Beyond the Sea,» directed by and starring by Kevin Spacey, along with Kate Bosworth, John Goodman and Brenda Blethyn; the American entry «Forty Shades of Blue» by Ira Sachs; «Childstar,» directed by and starring Don McKellar, along with Jennifer Jason Leigh; the Hong Kong production «Dumplings» by Fruit Chan; the French/German/Turkish/Greek co-production «Waiting for the Clouds» by Yesim Ustaoglu; the Argentinean «A Year Without Love» by Anahi Berneri; and Brazil’s Claudio Torres’s «Redeemer.» «Hostage,» though due to hit mainstream movie theaters on March 4, already has tongues wagging on the local cinema circuit. The film is a close examination of the story of an Albanian migrant to Greece who hijacks a long-distance KTEL bus on the outskirts of Thessaloniki and holds the passengers hostage at gunpoint. The film was inspired by real events that took place in northern Greece in the spring of 1999, but, says Yiannaris, «it is not a faithful re-enactment of that bus hijacking. It is different in many ways and the diversions were a conscious choice,» he says. «The main themes of the film,» the director goes on to explain, «are, among others, emigration and the longing to return home, masculinity as a basic characteristic of one’s identity and the role of the media.» In other news about the Berlinale, which runs from February 10-20, the jury will be presided over by the Oscar-winning German director Roland Emmerich («Independence Day,» «Godzilla,» «The Patriot»), while the festival will open with a screening of «Man to Man» by France’s Regis Wargnier and starring Joseph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas, and close with «Kinsey» by Bill Condon with Liam Neeson in the title role.