Abu Ghraib documentary to premiere at Berlinale

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BERLIN: A motion picture about the prisoner abuse scandal at Iraq s Abu Ghraib jail will become the first documentary ever to enter the competition at the Berlin Film Festival next month, organizers said Tuesday.

Standard Operating Procedure by Oscar-winning director Errol Morris uses recovered footage, reenactments and the notorious photographs published round the world to shed light on the sexual and physical abuse of Iraqi inmates by US troops at the notorious prison outside Baghdad.

It kept us glued to our seats, Berlinale chief Dieter Kosslick said of the film at a news conference ahead of the Feb. 7-17 event.

The known facts are presented in a way like you have never seen them before. That is the best thing a documentary can do.

Morris, who will turn 60 next month, won an Academy Award for his incisive 2003 documentary The Fog of War about former US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.

His films The Thin Blue Line about the death penalty in the United States and A Brief History of Time on the disabled British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking were also international successes.

Kosslick told reporters that the line-up of the 58th Berlinale would be less political than in recent years and focus on music in cinema.

The 58th annual event will open with Shine A Light , a Rolling Stones documentary by Martin Scorsese. Both the band and the director are expected to attend the gala premiere.

Pop diva Madonna is to screen her directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom , starring British actor Richard E. Grant and the Roma punk band Gogol Bordello.

The festival s sprawling sidebar sections will feature Indian hit Om Shanti Om with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and a documentary on the godmother of punk Patti Smith – both of whom will also perform live.

Rock legend Neil Young will present a documentary about Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young s 2006 Freedom of Speech Tour alongside pictures about Sudanese hip-hop artists and Argentinean tango.

Twenty-one films will be vying for the Golden and Silver Bear top prizes. -AFP

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