BERLIN - With less than a month before the 69th Berlinale International film festival opens in the German capital, organizers have named the Ecumenical Jury.
The prestigious festival opens on Feb. 7 with the world premiere of Lone Scherfig's newest film "The Kindness of Strangers."
The Prize of the Ecumenical Jury is an independent film award for feature films at major international film festivals since 1973 that was created by Christian film makers.
The jury will award its prizes in three sections to the winning films of directors "who have shown genuine artistic talent and succeed in expressing actions or human experiences that comply with the Gospel, or in sensitizing viewers to spiritual, human or social questions and values."
The six film specialists from around the globe - five women and one man - are: Pamela Aleman (Canada), Rev. Micah Bucey (USA), Sister Dominic Dipio (Uganda), Margrit Frölich (Germany), Anna Grebe (Germany), Kristine Greenaway (Canada).
Since 1992, the Ecumenical Jury has handed out prizes at this annual film festival in the heart of Berlin.
The jury is organized by the International Interchurch Film Organization (INTERFILM) and the World Catholic Association for Communication (SIGNIS). It will award prizes in the Competition, Panorama and Forum sections of the festival.
The aim of the jury is to "select movies which can be recommended for groups to see and discuss in order to understand better and share better all the challenges and hopes of our contemporary world."
The jury gives awards films that have a "universal impact, reflecting their local culture and helping audiences to know and respect the language and the images of their culture."
The Berlinale is the biggest audience participation film festival in the world and takes place every February at the Berlinale Palast on Potsdammerplatz.
During the Feb. 7-17 festival about 400 films will be shown in seven sections, with about 20 in the main International Competition, competing for the Golden Bear.
This year the French actress and Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche will serve as president of the International Berlinale Jury.
Films from renowned European film directors François Ozon, Marie Kreutzer, Denis Côté, Fatih Akin, Angela Schanelec and Emin Alper are competing in the Internatitional Competition.
The opening film will participate in the international competition.
Directed by a woman, "The Kindness of Strangers" is a contemporary drama following a disparate ensemble of characters, all struggling to survive in a New York City winter, who find laughter, love and kindness in each other.
It is an English-language Denmark-Canada co-production with Sweden, France and Germany and was filmed in Toronto, Copenhagen and New York.
Last year the Ecumenical Jury at the 68th Berlinale gave the gong to a German film In den Gängen/In the Aisles by film director Thomas Stuber.
Awarding the prize, the jury said "When life is a supermarket what we need is not found on the shelves but in the aisles. The film shows in an artistically convincing way what is meant by, "Blessed are the pure in heart."
A special commendation was made for the Norwegian film Utøya 22 July based on a real-life, historical event - the Utøya summer camp massacre on 22 July 2011. Shot in real-time, in one single take, the characters are however fictional.