Clooney opens Berlin film fest with spotlight on refugees

George Clooney opened the Berlin film festival Thursday with Europe's refugee influx in the spotlight, saying he would meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel about lending star power to help with the crisis.

See Full Article

The 11-day Berlinale, one of the top three cinema showcases in Europe along with Cannes and Venice, kicked off with a screening of "Hail, Caesar!", Joel and Ethan Coen's send-up of Tinseltown's 1950s golden age.

Clooney came to the German capital with his wife Amal, a Lebanese-born human rights lawyer, and co-stars Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton and Josh Brolin.

He told reporters he would meet Merkel and, separately, a group of asylum seekers Friday "to talk about and ask what messages and what things we can do... to help".

Although the Berlinale is spotlighting around a dozen films focused on refugees, Clooney admitted it would take time before Hollywood would turn its attention to such stories.

"The unfortunate thing about the film community is we react to situations much more than we lead the way. News stories have to continue to happen and then scripts are written and it takes a couple years before people are actually making films about it," he told reporters.

"It's also very difficult to just make a subject film. You have to have a reason -- a character and a reason to make it."

Why make movies

When asked a critical question about Hollywood escapism after a press screening of "Hail, Caesar!", a light-hearted romp, Joel Coen said filmmakers were under no obligation to deal with the most pressing issues of their time.

"To point the finger and say, you should be telling this particular story -- it's a misunderstanding about how movies get written and made. Are those stories important? Yes. Does it make sense to sort of say, 'you're a public figure, you tell stories, why aren't you telling that story?' is a funny question, frankly."

However he noted that he and Ethan Coen as presidents of the Cannes film festival jury last year awarded the top prize to the French movie "Dheepan", which offered an unflinching look at the plight of three Sri Lankan refugees in a violent Paris suburb.

"I think it had a lot to contribute to that discussion," he said.

Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep is serving as president of the Berlin prize jury, leading a panel including British actor Clive Owen. They will award the Golden Bear top prize to one of 18 contenders from around the world on February 20.

Owen said they would aim to "champion somebody who we think will benefit hugely from (the award) and could make a huge difference and further their career and give them the opportunity to make more good important films," he said.

Last year top honours went to Iranian dissident filmmaker Jafar Panahi for "Taxi", which he had to make in secret.

Tickets for asylum seekers

As Europe endures the largest refugee influx since World War II, with 1.1 million asylum seekers arriving in Germany last year, the theme of migration will dominate the festival.

Italian documentary director Gianfranco Rosi, who won at Venice three years ago, will enter the competition with "Fire at Sea" about Lampedusa, a Mediterranean island on the front line of the crisis.

And off screen, hundreds of tickets have been set aside for asylum seekers at the festival accompanied by volunteers and cinema-goers are being encouraged to donate money to refugee causes.

Among the world premieres generating buzz ahead of the start is a new adaptation of the international bestseller "Alone in Berlin", Hans Fallada's 1947 novel based on a true story.

The Nazi-era thriller sees Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson play a German couple who risk their lives to mount a resistance campaign against Hitler after losing their only son in the war.

Big crowds are also expected for "Genius", the feature debut by British theatre director Michael Grandage starring Colin Firth as literary editor Max Perkins, who published some of the 20th century's greatest American writers.

Jude Law plays Thomas Wolfe, Nicole Kidman his lover and muse Aline Bernstein, with Dominic West portraying Ernest Hemingway and Guy Pearce as F. Scott Fitzgerald.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Drake to live in a mansion fit for a Disney princess?

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Anyone who knows Oakville knows the house on Lakeshore Rd. E., near Balsam Dr. It is a fairy-tale monstrosity dubbed Buckingham Palace by local wags, and it’s currently for sale for just under $18 million. It seems to have been on the market for almost a year. Source
  • 'Doctor Strange' director Scott Derrickson doesn’t know when the sequel is happening

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson was relieved he didn’t have to try and shoehorn references to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he brought the Sorcerer Supreme to the big screen last fall. No Iron Man cameo, no Spider-Man tease, no Guardians of the Galaxy nod. Source
  • David Cassidy fighting memory loss, wants to 'enjoy life'

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Former "Partridge Family" star David Cassidy says he's struggling with memory loss. The 66-year-old actor-singer tells People magazine his family has a history of dementia and he had sensed "this was coming. Source
  • 'Billions' beauty Malin Akerman comes home

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Malin Akerman says her Billions character will show more "humanity" in the TV drama's second season which debuted Sunday, Feb. 19 (Crave-The Movie Network). The Swedish-born, Canadian-raised actress plays Lara, the protective wife of hedge fund manager Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Damian Lewis) who is being investigated by federal prosecutor Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti). Source
  • Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Joe Walsh hit the studio

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have reunited in the studio to collaborate on new music together. The two surviving members of The Beatles met up at Ringo’s home studio in Los Angeles on Sunday, with the drummer, 76, posting a picture of himself and his former bandmate on Twitter. Source
  • 'Hotline Bling is not a rap song'; Drake doesn't want his Grammys

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Drake doesn’t want his 2017 Grammy Awards because it “feels weird” to accept rap prizes for what he considers a pop song. The singer won the Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Rap Song for his track Hotline Bling at the Los Angeles prize-giving on Feb. Source
  • Lisa Marie Presley's kids in mom Priscilla's care

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Lisa Marie Presley’s children are being taken care of by their grandmother Priscilla Presley during her messy divorce battle. It was reported last week that Finley and Harper Lockwood, eight, had been removed from the family home and placed in the care of officials at California’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) after Lisa claimed to have found indecent photos and videos of children on her estranged husband Michael’s computer in legal papers as part of her divorce. Source
  • Kurt Cobain's daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, wishes late singer a happy 50th birthday

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Frances Bean Cobain posted an emotional message to her late father Kurt on Monday, the date of his 50th birthday. Frances, 24, was less than two years old when her father passed from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in April 1994, aged just 27. Source
  • 41-year-old Lauryn Hill becomes a grandma

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Singer Lauryn Hill has reportedly become a grandmother at the age of 41. The girlfriend of Hill’s 19-year-old son Zion Marley apparently welcomed a baby boy over the weekend, with the child thought to have been named Zephaniah.While the former Fugees star has not commented on the news, Zion’s father, Rohan Marley, announced his grandson’s arrival on Instagram. Source
  • Nick Cannon sued for US$1.75 million over app

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Nick Cannon has been hit with a US$1.7 million lawsuit for allegedly stealing the idea for his Ncredible mobile app . Enrico Taylor has filed legal documents claiming he met Cannon in 2015 to discuss his digital talent search company I Discover Stars. Source