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German movies in focus at Berlin global film fest

By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - German movies including a drama about the love triangle of Sturm und Drang poet Friedrich Schiller will dominate the main lineup at Berlin's international film festival this year, director Dieter Kosslick said on Tuesday.

But world cinema talent will not be absent at the 64th "Berlinale", which kicks off with the world premiere of U.S. director Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel", a comedy about a canny hotel concierge in the 1920s starring Ralph Fiennes and Adrien Brody.

Anderson and other global stars such as George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Forest Whitaker will grace Berlin's red carpet, Kosslick told a news conference.

The annual cinema showcase, which runs from February 6-16, will screen more than 400 films, but the main programme includes 23 movies, of which 20 will compete for the "Golden Bear".

For the first time since 2002, it will feature four German films, including Dominik Graf's "Beloved Sisters" about the relationship between 18th century poet Schiller and two beautiful sisters from the penniless aristocracy.

Others are Edward Berger's "Jack", about a 10-year-old looking after his younger brother while his single parent works, and Dietrich Brueggemann's "Stations of the Cross", about a teenage girl struggling to reconcile her desires with the ultraconservative Catholic community in which she lives.

"We have a lot of films where people are living in very narrow systems, for example, religious systems," Kosslick told Reuters. "We also have some strong films about kids."

"Young people in the world are around 2 billion, and these people are the last ones in a chain of suffering," he said, referring to Sudabeh Mortezai's "Macondo", a coming-of-age story about a Chechen boy in a refugee settlement in Vienna.

While discussing refugees, Kosslick said he was trying to help Bosnian Roma actor Nazif Mujic, who won best actor award at the Berlinale last year, to get asylum in Germany and had invited him to the festival.

News that Mujic, who played himself in the grim film "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker", was facing deportation after his first asylum application was turned down made headlines in Germany this month.

"We brought him in contact with a lawyer," said Kosslick. "I hope we can help him, it's a terrible situation, all these people with no money and no hope."

The Berlinale's competition lineup includes three Chinese films, "set outside the glamorous cities", Kosslick said, and several movies from Latin America including "Praia do Futuro", a gay love story set in Brazil and Germany.

The opening weekend will kick off with two highlights being screened out of competition, the director added: the uncut "Nymphomanic" by Denmark's Lars von Trier and George Clooney's topical "The Monuments Men" about art looted by the Nazis.

"Django Unchained" star Christoph Waltz, who has won two Oscars, will sit this year on the jury of the Berlinale, which is the first of the year's major European film festivals.

(Additional reporting by Reuters TV; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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