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Promised Land: Matt Damon's movie about fracking will compete in Berlin film festival

  • @matildbattersby

A film intended to be Matt Damon’s directorial debut, but which he handed over to director Gus Van Sant due to scheduling conflicts, is to compete in the Berlin International Film Festival competition.

Promised Land stars Damon as a salesman for a gas company who arrives in a small town trying to persuade locals that hydraulic fracturing of the area’s rock in order to extract shale gas, a practise known as ‘fracking’, is the answer to the economic decline of recent years.

The film also stars Frances McDormand alongside verteran actor Hal Hobrook as a schoolteacher who leads a campaign against fracking – a practise which has potential environmental impacts including ground water contamination, risks to air quality, radioactivity and increased seismic activity.

Director Van Sant was reportedly brought in to direct the movie after Damon decided he didn’t have enough time to prepare for it and act in it. The pair have worked together previously on 1997 Oscar-winner Good Will Hunting.

Promised Land , which is having its international premiere at the Berlin festival, will compete against five other movies in Berlin’s official competition next February. They include productions and co-productions from Austria, Chile, France, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Romania and Spain.

A highlight will be the world premiere of 3D animation The Croods in which characters are voiced by Nicolas Case, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds.

There is also anticipation surrounding Paradise: Hope, the final instalment of Austrian director Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy which will also premiere there.

The festival's Korean offering is Nugu-ui Ttal-do Anin Haewon (Nobody's Daughter Haewon) by Night and Day director  Hong Sangsoo. Spain’s is Gloria by Sebastián Lelio; and Romania’s entry is Child’s Pose by Călin Peter Netzer.

The Berlinale Special contribution (which isn't in the competition) is documentary Redemption Impossible by Germany’s Christian Rost and Claus Strigel.