Berlin festival attracts Crowe, Spacey, Tomei

A barrage of Hollywood celebrities descended on Berlin for the 52nd Berlin International Film Festival, which runs for 12 days (starting Feb. 6) and will screen almost 400 films.

Russell Crowe, Ron Howard, Judi Dench, Catherine Deneuve, Harvey Keitel, Kevin Spacey, Marisa Tomei, Steve Buscemi and Cate Blanchett will help round out the star-studded festival which usually highlights lesser-known talent and pictures.

Also known as the Berlinale, the festival is regarded as one of the more intellectual movie showcases of the year, and judging from the A-list of attendees, a definite rival to the Cannes Film Festival.

Twenty-three films will compete for the festival’s top prize, the prestigious Golden Bear, including the already critically acclaimed American films The Royal Tenenbaums starring Gene Hackman, The Shipping News starring Spacey, Iris starring Dench and Monster’s Ball starring Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry.

Four homegrown German films are also in the mix, including Heaven, an entry from Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer.

Salaam Bombay! director Mira Nair will chair the 10-member jury, which last year awarded the Golden Bear to Patrice Chéreau for his film Intimacy.

Director Robert Altman (Gosford Park) and Italian actress Claudia Cardinale will receive lifetime achievement awards.