Berlin film festival gloats over Rolling Stones coup

By | January 24, 2008 at 2:06 AM

Snatching Martin Scorsese’s eagerly awaited documentary about the Rolling Stones away from rival film festivals for the Berlinale next month is a career highlight for festival director Dieter Kosslick. The Berlin boss, humiliated when great rival Cannes poached “Motorcycle Diaries” at the last minute four years ago, said on Wednesday the buzz hasn’t even begun to wear off since he secured Scorsese’s “Shine a Light” for the February 7 opening.

“We’ve been talking about this film for a year and obviously every festival director was trying to get it,” Kosslick said, adding the British band will join the American director on the red carpet opening of the most star-studded Berlinale in years.

“We’re hugely fortunate that it’s coming to Berlin,” said Kosslick, who lost three late films to Cannes in 2004 and had to reprint his program. “It’s a great coup. For me as festival director it’s just fantastic. Honestly, I can hardly wait.”

“Shine A Light” draws on footage from two Stones concerts in New York in late 2006. It features rare archival scenes, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with one of the biggest bands in rock history with more than 200 million album sales.

Reflecting the growing clout of the Berlin Film Festival, a record 5,000 films were submitted for the 360 slots in this year’s competition, considered alongside Cannes and Venice to be one of the world’s most prestigious festivals.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood,” which picked up eight Academy Award nominations on Tuesday, will be shown for the first time outside the United States. Daniel Day-Lewis, nominated for best actor, will be in Berlin for the festival.

Films with Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman were added last week to the lineup of the 26-film main program. “Fireflies in the Garden,” starring Roberts as well as “The Other Boleyn Girl” with Portman, Johansson and Eric Bana, will be making their world premieres.

The festival will include the directorial debut of U.S. pop star Madonna, who is expected to attend. Her film “Filth and Wisdom” is part of the “Panorama” avant garde section.

“We’ve got a very, very good crop of entries this year,” Kosslick told a group of foreign journalists. “I’m not sure if it’s because of the city of Berlin that’s the draw, the festival, the time of year.

“It wasn’t any act of heroism. It’s just good fortune and good connections,” he added, before taking a jibe at some new festivals. “It certainly wasn’t money — we don’t pay anything.

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