Asian stars to bookend 60th Berlin film festival

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The Independent Culture

Top Asian directors will open and close the Berlin film festival next month as the star-studded event celebrates its 60th anniversary, organisers said Tuesday.

The curtain will rise on Chinese film-maker Wang Quan'an's "Apart Together" (Tuan Yuan) on February 11, a world premiere that will kick off the 10-day competition for the Golden Bear top prize.

In a statement, the festival described the 44-year-old Wang, who focuses on the plight of China's rural poor, as "one of the most important Chinese auteur film-makers of the younger generation".

He took home the Golden Bear in 2007 for "Tuya's Marriage" (Tuya De Hunshi), an unconventional love story about a herdswoman and her two husbands set in the grasslands of Mongolia.

"Apart Together" is a period drama about a soldier forced to flee Mao's forces for Taiwan in 1949 who reunites with the love of his life decades later.

The Berlinale's main programme will wrap up on February 20 with a screening of "About Her Brother" (Otouto) by Japanese master Yoji Yamada, 78, after the ceremony to hand out the top prizes.

It is the first contemporary drama in a decade for Yamada, who is best known for his Samurai trilogy and has been a guest of the Berlin festival six times. "About Her Brother" will screen out of competition.

The Berlinale ranks second after Cannes among Europe's top cinema showcases.

Highlights this year are to include "The Ghost Writer" by Roman Polanski, who has been completing the film while under house arrest in Switzerland awaiting possible extradition to the United States on charges of unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

The picture stars Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, who are expected in Berlin alongside Leonardo DiCaprio with Martin Scorsese's new thriller "Shutter Island" and Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan appearing in "My Name is Khan".