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"The Grand Budapest Hotel" world premiere kicks off Berlin Film Festival

The 64th Berlin Film Festival is under way in the German capital. Kicking off the 11-day event is the world premiere of US director West Anderson's caper "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

Berlinale Film Festival kicks off

The stars of Anderson's new film - Bill Murray, Ralph Fiennes, Ed Norton and Tilda Swinton - were all in the German capital on Thursday for the world premiere of "The Grand Budapest Hotel" at the Berlinale.

More than 400 productions from 72 countries will be screened during the festival. A total of 20 films are competing for the Berlinale's top honor, the Golden Bear for best picture, which will be awarded at a February 15 gala.

George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Catherine Deneuve, Forest Whitaker, Uma Thurman, Toni Colette, Patricia Arquette and Viggo Mortensen were among the other celebrities set to attend the festival.

Anticipated Anderson premier

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" is Anderson's eighth film, and is set in a fictional spa town before the second World War. It follows the recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and fight for a family fortune in a rapidly changing Europe. The eastern German town of Görlitz, located on the border with Poland, was used as the primary filming location, with an old department store filling in as the hotel.

Festival director Dieter Kosslick told reporters last week that Anderson's film is an appropriate choice in a year where Europe marks the 100th anniversary of World War I.

"There is a lot of German history in this movie, and that goes for many of the films to be shown here, regardless of where they are from," he said.

Screenings for fans

The Berlinale sets itself apart from other top European film festivals like Cannes or Venice by opening up its screenings to fans. Some 500,000 tickets have been sold for this year's edition.

An eight-member jury, which includes the Austrian-German actor Christoph Waltz and is headed by "Brokeback Mountain" producer James Schamus, will award the festival's prizes. Schamus likens the jury's work to that of a family.

"The family is a space where you can still sit at a table with people with profound differences of opinion," he said. "What brings us together, are movies."

In a tribute to the US actor Philip Seymour Hoffman the festival will hold a screening of the 2005 film "Capote", for which he won an Academy Award for best actor. The 46-year-old Hoffman passed away suddenly last week from an apparent drug overdose.

"He'll be here," Schamus said. "It's places like Berlin that you have the opportunity in a sense to remember and to mourn and to celebrate."

dr/mkg (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)

DW.DE

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