Berlinale 2017

Berlin (dpa) – The Berlin Film Festival is to respond next month to the current sense of turmoil and resentment gripping the world with a programme full of courage and humour, Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick said on Tuesday.

"Rarely has a Berlinale programme presented the current political situation as impressively in pictures as this year," said Kosslick.

"It is nevertheless a Berlinale programme with much courage and confidence, and there is also a lot of humour in the films", he said.

The festival is also gearing up for a major glamour offensive, with the Berlinale unveiling a long list of the world's top stars set to walk its famed red carpet at the annual movie showcase.

One of the world's leading film festivals, the Berlinale each year provides a welcome blast of glitz during the German capital's grey winter.

And this year is no exception, with stars such as Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, Geoffrey Rush, Penelope Cruz, Hugh Jackman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Robert Pattison expected in Berlin.

But as one of the most political film festivals, this year's Berlinale programme is also packed with movies exploring contemporary themes, including minority rights, migrants, climate change and no less than the failure of world's leading political movements.

"Neither capitalism nor communism has kept its promises," festival director Dieter Kosslick told a press conference. "The richer are richer and the poor are poorer."

Just to make point, the festival is screening "The Young Karl Marx" from Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck about the early years of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who co-wrote the political pamphlet "The Communist Manifesto" in the mid-19th century.

The line-up also includes British director Rubika Shah's "White Riot: London," which is set in 1977 Britain at time of deep division over immigration.

The Berlinale opens with the world premiere of a movie from French director Etienne Comar about the life of the legendary jazz guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt.

Despite his popularity as a musician at the time, Reinhardt was hounded by the Nazis because of his family background as a member of the Sinti group.

"Django" is also one of 18 movies - 17 of which are world premieres - competing for the festival's top prize, the Golden Bear for best picture.

Indeed, like "Django" many of the films included in this year's festival draw on history and unconventional family life to tell the story of the modern age.

Five years after his "Le Havre" won critical acclaim in Cannes, Finland's Aki Kaurismaki returns to the festival circuit with a refugee story, "The Other Side of Hope."

A seven-member jury headed by veteran Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, who won global fame with box-office hits such as "RoboCop," "Basic Instinct" and "Total Recall," will hand out the festival's prestigious prizes on February 18.

The 67th Berlinale harks back to an earlier period when the festival was rich in Central European cinema, with festival organizers selecting new movies from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania for the main competition.

This includes "Ana, Mon Amour," about a couple coping with mental illness, from Romania's Calin Peter Netzer.

Gere joins Steve Coogan, Laura Linney and Rebecca Hall in US director Oren Moverman's "The Dinner," a thriller about parents weighing up how to deal with a crime committed by their children.

The cheerful mood at a party suddenly turns sour as a drama unfolds in British director Sally Potter's "The Party."

"The programme is enough of a protest," Kosslick said when asked how the Berlinale would mark the worldwide protests against the Trump White House.

But this year's festival is also overshadowed by the terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market on December 19 in which 12 people were killed and about 50 injured.

Kosslick warned that festivalgoers should expect maximum security. "The fans on the red carpet might not always be Berlinale fans," he said, referring to undercover security personnel.