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Berlin Film Festival suffers last-minute withdrawal
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The Berlin Film Festival has suffered the withdrawal of two jury members just hours before its opening on Thursday evening.

"With profound regret, Susanne Bier and Sandrine Bonnaire have announced at the last moment they will be unable to participate on the jury," said Berlinale organizers on Thursday.

Danish director Susanne Bier said she is leaving for the United States immediately due to unforeseen circumstances related to her next film.

"The bags were already packed, however an unforeseen occurrence demanded my immediate professional presence elsewhere," said Bier. "I am very sad about this."

French actress and director Sandrine Bonnaire also quit due to family reasons.

Organizers said she will be unable to stay in Berlin for the entire length of the festival and thus has to resign as jury member.

"For me it was a great honour to have been appointed to the Berlinale jury and I was looking forward to enjoying the ten-day cinematic journey. However, for family reasons, I've been forced to cancel and ask everyone involved for their understanding," Bonnaire said.

The jury, which will award the top prizes of the film festival at a ceremony on Feb. 16, is presided over by Greek-born director Constantin Costa-Gavras and includes actress Shu Qi from China's Taiwan as well as German actress Diane Kruger.

Also joining the jury are U.S. film editor Walter Murch, Russian film producer Alexander Rodniansky and German production designer Uli Hanisch.

The 58th Berlin Film Festival, one of the world's top three of its kind, is scheduled to open here Thursday evening with a gala featuring the world premiere of Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese's concert movie about the legendary rock group The Rolling Stones.

During the 10-day film festival about 400 films are to be screened in different sections.

One year after Tuya's Marriage was crowned with the coveted Golden Bear award, this year's competition section again features two Chinese films: Wang Xiaoshuai's Zuo You (In Love We Trust) and Hong Kong director Johnnie To's Sparrow (Man Jeuk).
(Xinhua/Agencies February 8, 2008)

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