Martial Arts Epic Opens Berlin Film Festival
The 63rd annual Berlin Film Festival -- The Berlinale -- gets underway tonight (Thursday) with a screening of The Grandmaster, a martial-arts epic from Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai. The director also heads the jury that will decide which of the 19 films entered in the competition will receive the prestigious Golden Bear award. (The Grandmaster is not entered in the competition.) Among the films being screened is Closed Curtain, co-directed by Iranian Jafar Panahi, In 2011, Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison and barred from making films for 20 years after being convicted of making propaganda against the state, a sentence that he is currently appealing. Nevertheless, he managed to smuggle out a film, titled This Is Not a Film (describing a day in his life since his conviction), by transferring it to a USB thumb drive and hiding it in a cake. It was first screened at the Cannes Film Festival later that year. This will be the second film he has managed to spirit out of the country. Another highly anticipated film is Dark Blood, which River Phoenix was filming at the time of his death at age 23 twenty years ago. Director George Sluizer rescued the footage and reads the scenes that were not completed.