Berlinale’s top50 films set forAthens screenings

Spring is normally the time when the country’s movie theaters show the dregs of annual production. What then could be better to jolt the public out of this stupor than an eight-day tribute to the Berlin Film Festival with a selection of its best offerings? Athenians will have the opportunity to enjoy 50 selections – many being shown for the first time in Greece – from a cross-section of the international event, at the Astron, Ideal and Microcosmos theaters. The tribute in Athens begins today with guests Wieland Speck, director of the Berlinale’s Panorama section, and Alfred Holighaus, head of Perspektive Deutsches Kino – the heads of the two sections of the Berlin festival that give it its avant-garde tone. Organized by Cultural Action and Cinemad, and supported by the German Embassy in Athens, the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, the City of Athens Cultural Organization and the Goethe Institute of Athens, the Berlinale tribute offers a rich and varied program this year. Starting with the official competition section, the films being screened are all one of a kind. For example, there’s Robert Altman’s most recent production «A Prairie Home Companion,» featuring Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Tommy Lee Jones, Robin Williams, Matthew Modine, Kevin Kline and many others. «Invisible Waves,» by Thai filmmaker Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, is a classically structured thriller which was nominated for a Golden Bear at Berlin, while «Snowcake,» by the UK’s Marc Evans, stars Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Carrie-Anne Moss and focuses on the friendship between an autistic woman and a man injured in an accident. Jafar Panahi’s comedy drama «Offside» won the Golden Bear, along with critical acclaim and a warm round of applause from the public, for its story about a group of Tehran women who attempt to watch the World Cup final between Iran and Bahrain by dressing up as men and sneaking into the stadium. The Panorama section of the «Berlinale in Athens» event features mostly the work of young filmmakers, including Australian John Hillcoat’s anti-Western drama «The Proposition,» a music documentary by another Australian, Lian Lunson, titled «Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man,» and Swedish director Lukas Moodysson’s black-and-white exploration into the sexes, «Container.» An incisive exploration of German society is offered in the contemporary German cinema section, which in Berlin gained widespread acclaim for heralding a new era in the German film industry. The selections for Athens include both short and feature films, as well as documentaries. Movie stars are also a must for any self-respecting film festival and «Berlinale in Athens» is no exception, as it will host a series of films dedicated to the legendary screen divas of the 1950s, including Anna Magnani (of Luchino Visconti’s «Bellissima»), Brigitte Bardot (Roger Vadim’s «And God Created Woman»), Melina Mercouri (Jules Dassin’s «Never on Sunday») and Ingrid Bergman (Roberto Rossellini’s «Viaggio in Italia»). The festival will also present the performance «Marlene» (a tribute to Marlene Dietrich) by Pam Gems, starring Dimitra Hatoupi in the title role. The play has been translated into Greek by Nikos Anastasopoulos and the choreography is by Razvan Mazilu.