29. Januar 2009

Munich, 29 January 2009. With JOHN RABE, EFFI BRIEST and HILDE, Beta Cinema boasts three world premieres as GALA presentations at this year's Berlinale Specials. Opening the series in the Friedrichstadtpalast on 7 February is JOHN RABE, winner of two Bavarian Film Awards (best film, best lead actor), directed by Academy Award winner Florian Gallenberger and starring Ulrich Tukur, Steve Buscemi, Anne Consigny and Daniel Brühl in the lead roles. Director Hermine Huntgeburth's EFFI BRIEST also brings together an outstanding cast toplined by Julia Jentsch (2006 Academy Award nominee SOPHIE SCHOLL - THE FINAL DAYS), Sebastian Koch (2007 Academy Award winning THE LIVES OF OTHERS) and Juliane Köhler (2003 Academy Award winning NOWHERE IN AFRICA). In HILDE (director: Kai Wessel), lead actress Heike Makatsch crafts a moving tribute to Germany's biggest post-war star, Hildegard Knef. Also being presented to international buyers for the first time in a film market are the hit Dutch film BRIDE FLIGHT by Ben Sombogaart (Academy Award nominee for TWIN SISTERS) and NOVEMBER CHILD, Christian Schwochow's critically acclaimed drama of a young woman finding out about her own biography in the formerly two Germanys, starring Anna Maria Mühe (daughter of the late Ulrich Mühe) and Ulrich Matthes (DOWNFALL).

In JOHN RABE, Florian Gallenberger relates the true story of a German Siemens manager who saved about 250,000 civilians from slaughter at the hands of Japanese soldiers in Nanking during the Sino-Japanese War in 1937. The production by Hofmann & Voges, EOS Entertainment and Majestic Filmproduktion is based on the diaries of the "Schindler of China" (New York Times), who is still revered as a saint in China today. Next to Ulrich Tukur (THE LIVES OF OTHERS) and Steve Buscemi (FARGO, ARMAGEDDON), the film also stars Daniel Brühl (INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, GOOD BYE LENIN!) and Anne Consigny (THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY). In the Constantin Film production EFFI BRIEST, director Hermine Huntgeburth (THE WHITE MASAI) gives a modern twist to Theodor Fontane's classical novel. At the urging of her parents, impulsive 17-year-old Effi Briest (Julia Jentsch) marries Baron Innstetten (Sebastian Koch), a former admirer of her mother (Juliane Köhler). Effi seeks relief from the monotony of her marriage by throwing herself into a passionate affair which ends fatally for her lover. However, unlike the heroine's fate in Fontane's novel, Effi's life is not destroyed by this tragedy. EFFI BRIEST was produced by Günter Rohrbach (THE WHITE MASAI, THE BOAT). In HILDE, director Kai Wessel (GOEBBELS AND GEDULDIG) brings to life a fascinating figure from Germany's post-war era, Hildegard Knef. It's the story of a star who didn't always make the best choices in films or men, who was paralyzed by boredom in Hollywood, and who carried on a love-hate relationship with the German public. Hers was a rocky road toward becoming the person that her audience had always been waiting for. In this Egoli Tossell production, Heike Makatsch (LOVE, ACTUALLY) portrays Knef and sings her greatest hits alongside young up-and-coming British star Dan Stevens ("Pride and Prejudice ").

The Dutch film BRIDE FLIGHT (IDTV Film), whose box-office gross of c. 2.5 million euros propelled it to the top group of best local films of all times, is also making its international market debut at the Berlinale. Shortly after the end of the war, three women meet on board a KLM flight headed to New Zealand, where they want to marry. Years later, their paths cross again at a funeral. Also slated for its premiere at the European Film Market is director Christian Schwochow's NOVEMBER CHILD. For this Sommerhaus Filmproduktion feature, lead actress Anna Maria Mühe was honored with the Newcomer Award at Filmfest Schwerin 2008.