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Thursday, 10 February, 2000, 11:57 GMT
Bono grabs Berlin spotlight
Wim Wenders and Milla Jovovich
Director Wim Wenders with his star, actress Milla Jovovich
The Berlin Film Festival has opened with a premiere of German director Wim Wenders' latest work, The Million Dollar Hotel, based on a story co-written by rock star Bono.
U2's lead singer Bono
U2's Bono was the centre of attention
The romantic thriller, which was financed in Germany but shot in Los Angeles, stars the Hollywood superstar Mel Gibson.

It tells of a group of down-and-out people under investigation for a murder, and the doomed love of retarded Tom-Tom, played by Jeremy Davies, for Milla Jovovich's character Eloise.

After the screening, Wenders said he was delighted to be back at the newly rebuilt Potsdamer Platz, where he shot one of his first successful films, Wings of Desire, 15 years ago.

"It'd be an honour for any director on the planet to be here, but for me it's highly emotional," he said. "I never would have dreamed it."

Sophie Marceau with Polish director Andrzej Wajda
Bond actress Sophie Marceau with Polish legend Andrzej Wajda
Wenders may have been centre stage at his post-screening news conference, but most of the questions from the media were directed at U2 frontman Bono, who also provided the soundtrack and makes a cameo appearance.

"I still flinch when I see it," Bono said. "It's one of those awful 'There's the rock star in his movie' moments for me."

The inspiration for the film, which launches 10 days of cinema leading up to the Golden Bear awards ceremony on 20 February, came to Bono while wandering through the real Million Dollar Hotel in Los Angeles in the 1980s.

"Every room - there's so many stories in there," he explained.

Tough competition

The Million Dollar Hotel is one of three German movies among 21 in competition at the festival, but the six Hollywood films, including The Beach and The Talented Mr. Ripley, are grabbing most of the attention.
Chinese actress Gong Li
Festival judge: Chinese star Gong Li
The jury is headed by Chinese actress Gong Li and includes veteran Polish director Andrzej Wajda, who is due to receive an honorary Oscar in Hollywood next month.

Other big names expected include French screen legend Jeanne Moreau, who will receive a special tribute on Friday, while Robert De Niro is due to be honoured with a retrospective.

ER star George Clooney and rapper Ice Cube are in town for a showing of their Gulf War movie Three Kings ahead of its European release and Leonardo DiCaprio is expected to promote The Beach.

See also:

08 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Berlin reaches for the stars
07 Feb 00 | Entertainment
East is East is best
03 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Films without film arrive in Europe
29 Jan 00 | Tom Brook
Sundance shines on female talent
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