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Wednesday, 7 February, 2001, 16:21 GMT
Berlin film festival opens
Sean Connery in Finding Forrester
Sir Sean Connery with Robert Brown in Finding Forrester
The 51st Berlin Film Festival has got under way, promising a feast of film over the next 11 days.

Twenty-three films are competing for the Golden Bear, the main award at the 11-day cinematic feast.

British interest in Berlin is represented by Michael Winterbottom's romantic western, The Claim and John Boorman's adaptation of John Le Carre's novel, The Tailor of Panama, which stars Pierce Brosnan.

Meanwhile Quills, about the Marquis de Sade, starring Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet, is appearing out of competition.

Hollywood

Hollywood entries include Spike Lee's Bamboozled, Finding Forrester which stars Sean Connery, Sean Penn's The Pledge with Jack Nicholson and Michael Douglas's current release, Traffic.

Also showing - out of competition - is Hannibal, the sequel to Silence Of The Lambs, which stars Sir Anthony Hopkins as serial killer Hannibal Lecter.

Other notable entries include Enemy at the Gates, an epic about the World War II from French director Jean-Jacques Annaud and starring British actors Jude Law and Joseph Fiennes.

Kevin Costner's latest film, Thirteen Days, a political thriller about the Cuban missile crisis directed by Ronald Donaldson, is also being shown.

International line-up

Five Asian movies have been entered - two from China, two from Japan and one from Korea.

Dame Judi Dench in Chocolat
Another entry is Lasse Hallstrom's Chocolat
Three French films in competition include A Ma Soeur and Patrice Chereau's first production filmed in English, Intimacy, featuring singer Marianne Faithfull.

Former head of 20th Century Fox studios and the producer of the blockbuster Titanic, Bill Mechanic, is president of the Berlinale jury.

Among the major stars expected in Berlin are Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp who star in Chocolat by Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom.

Career honour

Hollywood veteran Kirk Douglas is to receive an honorary Golden Bear for his life's work, and the festival will show a retrospective of his films.

Several documentaries will also have their world premiere in Berlin.

They include Stanley Kubrick - A Life in Pictures, about the late director of A Clockwork Orange and 2001, narrated by Tom Cruise.

In all, 680 films will be shown during the festival.

One guest - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder - had to pull out of the festival's opening ceremony on Wednesday.

Mr Schroeder is recovering from influenza, and will be replaced by the culture minister Julian Nida-Ruemelin.

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