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Berlin film fest opens with spotlight on Iran and Ukraine

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The Berlinale, Europe’s first major film festival of the year, opens Thursday with a comedy starring Anne Hathaway, Marisa Tomei and Peter Dinklage ahead of a packed programme spotlighting Iran and Ukraine.

The 73rd annual festival, which traditionally has the strongest political focus of the three big European cinema showcases, will mark the Russian invasion’s first anniversary as well as anti-regime protests in Iran with new feature films and documentaries.

A series of special events is planned including panel discussions and red-carpet protests in “solidarity” with the people of Iran and Ukraine.

The festival’s artistic director Carlo Chatrian said the Berlinale would be a celebration of the “catalysing and revolutionary notion of cinema which unites even when it divides”.

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Hollywood actor Sean Penn, who was in Kyiv at the start of the Russian onslaught, will present “Superpower”, tracking Volodymyr Zelensky’s transformation from comedian to president to war hero, based on a series of conversations.

“Zelensky was two completely different creatures from one day to the next,” the two-time Oscar winner told film industry magazine Variety this week. “He was a spirit in waiting.”

The Ukrainian leader is expected to address the festival by video link.

Animation back in force
The Berlinale has barred filmmakers, companies and reporters with direct ties to the Russian or Iranian governments from taking part in the event, including its sprawling European Film Market, a key movie rights exchange for the industry.

“She Came to Me” by US director Rebecca Miller, about a New York composer portrayed by Peter Dinklage fighting writer’s block, will be the first of nearly 300 new movies from around the world to screen during the 11-day event.

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French-Iranian actor Golshifteh Farahani (“Paterson”) will serve on the jury for the Golden and Silver Bear top prizes headed by Hollywood star Kristen Stewart, at 32 the youngest president in the festival’s history.

Nineteen films will vie for the main awards, including British-US co-production “Manodrome” featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Adrien Brody in a thriller about an Uber driver who is expecting his first child and lured into a cult.

Two Asian animated pictures will also join the running, “Art College 1994” by China’s Liu Jian and Makoto Shinkai’s “Suzume”, the first Japanese anime to compete at the Berlinale since Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” clinched the Golden Bear in 2002.

Gold for Spielberg
Three-time Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg is due in the German capital to collect an honorary Golden Bear for his life’s work, spotlighted in a retrospective.

British actor Helen Mirren will premiere the keenly awaited “Golda” in which she stars as Israel’s only female prime minister, Golda Meir.

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And Vicky Krieps, the acclaimed Luxembourg-born actor from “Phantom Thread” and “Corsage”, will unveil her turn as renowned Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann in a biopic by veteran German director Margarethe von Trotta.

One-third of the films in competition are by women, who make up 40 percent of all directors represented at the festival.

“Love to Love You”, a documentary about disco queen Donna Summer, who defined an era on the dance floor and helped inspire Beyonce’s latest album “Renaissance”, will have its world premiere.

The film was co-directed by Summer’s daughter, Brooklyn Sudano, and features never-before-seen home videos.

The Berlinale ranks with Cannes and Venice among Europe’s top film festivals. It will award the Golden and Silver Bear trophies at a gala ceremony on February 25 before wrapping up the next day with screenings of popular movies from this year’s selection. 

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Kareena ignores Shahid Kapoor at award show

Kareena ignores Shahid Kapoor at award show

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Kareena ignores Shahid Kapoor at award show

The Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards (DPIFF) 2024 took place in Mumbai on Feb 20. 

On the red carpet, exes Kareena Kapoor Khan and Shahid Kapoor had an awkward encounter, which is now going viral on social media.

It looks like Kareena ‘royally’ ignored Shahid and went on to pose for the paparazzi.

The viral video, which is now doing the rounds, shows Shahid Kapoor holding a trophy in his hands and posing with director duo Raj and DK.

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As the photo session was underway, Kareena Kapoor arrived and greeted the directors as she moved past them to pose for the paparazzi.

Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan’s past relationship has always made headlines.

The two worked in superhit films like ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Udta Punjab’. In several interviews, they have spoken about sharing a cordial relationship after they moved on with their respective lives.

But, the recent video seems to indicate otherwise.

Work-wise, Kareena Kapoor Khan will be seen next in ‘The Crew’ and ‘Singham Again’. Shahid Kapoor’s upcoming release is ‘Deva’, which is currently under production.

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Faryal Makhdoom threatens to expose ITV after CBB axe

Faryal Makhdoom threatens to expose ITV after CBB axe

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Faryal Makhdoom threatens to expose ITV after CBB axe

Faryal Makhdoom has threatened to expose ITV after she was dropped from Celebrity Big Brother, just days before the show airs.

The wife of Amir Khan was reportedly signed up for the show.

However, Faryal later said Celebrity Big Brother axed her over her pro-Palestine views on social media.

On Instagram, Faryal said: “As many of you know, I was offered to do a show for which the producers had offered me a few years ago and I had previously refused.

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“This time, they made a very lucrative offer and after a lot of convincing, I finally agreed to sign for the show.

“I also wanted to do this show to make it more inclusive for the Muslim community.

“But it seems from my social media activity and being pro-Palestine is not appropriate for ITV and its sponsors.

“Mind you, ITV and this particular show has had many controversial people on it before, but for some reason, I was singled out.

“I was told to step down 10 days before going in.

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“I have never in my life been treated like this. It’s a violation of free speech.

“This is why cowards with a huge following (especially Muslims) refuse to speak on this issue because they deprive you of opportunities and so you have no choice but to support them and stand them.

“Bear in mind, I was offered substantial money not to speak on this issue but I rejected it.

“For me, no amount of money will ever stop me from speaking on the injustice happening in Palestine.”

ITV responded and denied Faryal’s claims, with a spokesperson saying: “We meet numerous prospective housemates when casting for Celebrity Big Brother, however the final lineup is not confirmed until closer to transmission.

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“As per our welfare protocols, we are unable to comment on the casting process for individual prospective Housemates, other than to say that suitability to participate is determined by a number of factors.”

Faryal hit back, sharing what appeared to be a screenshot of her contract between herself and Celebrity Big Brother producer Banijay.

She wrote: “Attempting to downplay a situation when I have my contract right here.”

In another post, she said: “Do better with the lies ITV.

“I had gone through all of the relevant and necessary assessments, including a mental health assessment.

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George Michael honoured with UK collectible coin

George Michael honoured with UK collectible coin

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George Michael honoured with UK collectible coin

Late British singer-songwriter George Michael is being honoured with a personalised collectible coin.

Britain’s Royal Mint said on Monday the new coin, which depicts Michael wearing his trademark sunglasses, pays tribute to the music star’s 1987 hit solo single “Faith”.

Officially approved by Michael’s estate, it was designed by artist and sculptor Sandra Deiana.

“From his debut with WHAM! to becoming one of the bestselling solo musicians of all time, George Michael is a global superstar whose work has inspired and influenced generations with his music and his unique style,” said Rebecca Morgan, director of Collector Services at The Royal Mint.

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“Loved by millions of fans worldwide, we are delighted to be introducing an official UK coin celebrating his life and legacy,” she said in a statement.

Michael, who rose to stardom in the 1980s with Wham! before embarking on a successful solo career, died on Christmas Day in 2016 at the age of 53.

Wham!’s enduring 1984 festive song “Last Christmas” finally secured the “Christmas Number 1” spot for the first time on the UK music charts in December, 39 years after its release.

The new coin is the latest addition to the Royal Mint’s “Music Legends” series, which has previously honoured David Bowie, Elton John and Queen with coins, and will be available to purchase from Monday.

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