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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 11:24 GMT
Soccer and politics for Berlinale
Berlin Film Festival poster
Final touches are being applied to the festival line-up
This year's Berlin Film Festival will blend political films with features about football, as Germany gears up to host the World Cup.

Festival director Dieter Kosslick said the event, which starts on 9 February, was "very political as a whole".

George Clooney's oil industry thriller Syriana will be screened, with Michael Winterbottom's Road to Guantanamo.

Football-themed films include Offside, an Iranian movie about a girl who is banned from entering a stadium alone.

"That may not surprise the Iranians but it is quite interesting for us because there is a debate in this film in which the girls question that rule," Mr Kosslick told the Agence France Presse news agency.

The festival opens four months before the opening game of the World Cup.

Football documentaries

Showing out of competition will be La Gran Final, about fans' desperation to see the 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany, and Once In A Lifetime, a documentary about the now-defunct New York Cosmos team, for which Pele and Franz Beckenbauer played.

Icelandic movie Eleven Men Out - about a gay footballer who battles prejudice - and Spain's Railroad All Stars, a documentary about football-mad villagers in Guatemala, will also be screened.

Winterbottom's The Road To Guantanamo - about three Muslims held at the US base in Cuba - will get a high-profile premiere.

"Road to Guantanamo tells the story of an extreme violation of human rights," Mr Kosslick said.

"The fact we are showing the film at a red-carpet screening that usually features stars and not people who have been tortured is a political act as well.

Brazil's Cafu with the World Cup
Football will feature heavily ahead of the World Cup

"The festival has a long tradition of politics, leading back to the Cold War when Berlin was surmounting its isolation, and banned films from Asia and eastern Europe were shown."

Sexual politics also feature, with another Iranian film in competition, It's Winter, offering a dark vision of relations between the sexes.

The opening film, Snow Cake, sees Sigourney Weaver play an autistic woman who develops a relationship with a troubled man played by Alan Rickman.

"It is a terrific love story about an attempt to overcome isolation and see that it is possible to love someone when you thought you could not."

More than 300 films will be screened before the festival ends on 19 February.

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