George Clooney film to open Berlin festival

George Clooney (AP)
George Clooney (AP)

Berlin - The Coen brothers' all-star romp Hail, Caesar! featuring George Clooney as a bumbling Hollywood actor playing the Roman emperor will open the 66th Berlin film festival in February, organisers said on Friday.

The Oscar-winning American siblings are due to walk the red carpet in the German capital on 11 February  to kick off the 11-day event, ranked with Cannes and Venice among Europe's top cinema showcases.

"It's wonderful that Joel and Ethan Coen are once again opening the Berlinale," festival director Dieter Kosslick said in a statement.

"Their humour, unique characters and fantastic narrative skill are guaranteed to thrill the audience," he added, calling it the "perfect start" to the 2016 edition.

See the trailer here:

The Coens presented what would become their cult classic The Big Lebowski in 1998 at the Berlinale, as the event is known, and opened the festival in 2011 with their remake of the western True Grit.

A festival spokeswoman told AFP that Hail, Caesar! would screen out of competition for the event's Golden Bear top prize, which will be awarded by a jury led by Meryl Streep on 20 February.

The movie, which is due to be released in the United States on 5 February , is a send-up of Hollywood's 1950s Golden Age when the big studios still had the industry in their grip.

It presents a madcap day in the life of a studio fixer played by Josh Brolin and features a cast including Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum.

The Coen brothers have described the role for Clooney in interviews as the third in a Numbskull Triology after O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2000 and Intolerable Cruelty in 2003.

This year's Golden Bear went to Taxi by Iranian dissident director Jafar Panahi.