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66th International Berlin Film Festival opens

From Jeff Nichols to Mia Hansen-Love, this year's Berlinale offers a lot of promising new work from reliable filmmakers

Baku. 11 February. REPORT.AZ/ The 66th annual Berlin International Film Festival opens Thursday with the European premiere of the Coen brothers’ latest caper, “Hail, Caesar.” But the Berlinale has always been the most engagé of the world’s film festivals and this year’s selection also reflects some of the weightier issues in Europe today: immigration and refugees, Report informs.

Among the films in competition this year is “Fuocoammare,” or “Fire at Sea,” the latest documentary by the Italian director Gianfranco Rosi, about the Italian island of Lampedusa, an arrival point for thousands of migrants crossing into Europe from North Africa.

The Panorama special for more experimental work will present “The Road to Istanbul” by the French director Rachid Bouchareb, about a Belgian woman who discovers that her daughter has gone to Syria to join the Islamic State. The Generation 14Plus selection for young viewers will show “Life on the Border,” in which the Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi gave eight children cameras and asked them to document their own lives.

Last year, nearly 80,000 people sought asylum in Berlin. The festival, which sells tickets to the public, has asked the city’s nonprofit refugee aid programs for volunteers “who would like to accompany a refugee to a screening,” it said on its website. “The aim of the project is to help boost existing acquaintanceships and foster cultural exchange,” it added.

More than 400 films from around the world will be shown at the festival, which runs through February 22.

The competition also includes “Genius,” starring Colin Firth as the legendary New York literary editor Maxwell Perkins and Jude Law as the novelist Thomas Wolfe, as they transform Wolfe’s 1,000-page manuscript into his novel “Look Homeward, Angel.” It is the first film by the British theater director Michael Grandage.

Also in competition is the Chinese director Yang Chao’s “Crosscurrent,” about a ship captain on the Yangtze River; and the Filipino director Lav Diaz’s eight-hour “A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery,” about Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro, the leader of Filipino resistance to Spanish colonial rule in the late 19th century.

Meryl Streep will preside over this year’s competition jury. Its other members are the photographer Brigitte Lacombe, the German actor Lars Eidinger, the British actor Clive Owen, the Italian actor Alba Rohrwacher, the British film critic Nick James and the Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska.

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