Fri, Dec 23, 2005 - Page 17 News List

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AGENCIES

Chinese director Kaige Chen toasts his new baby.

PHOTO: AP

US actress Renee Zellweger has obtained the annulment of her marriage to country singer Kenny Chesney, according to court documents released Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Oscar winner had asked for the marriage to be declared void in September, four months after the marriage in the Virgin islands. Zellweger, star of the Brigitte Jones series and Cold Mountain met the country superstar in January during a concert for Asian tsunami victims.

The documents said the couple are again considered single people.

The Berlin Film Festival announced last week the first seven films in the running for its Golden and Silver Bears awards in February along with two US films that will be screened out of competition.

Syriana, a political thriller starring George Clooney, and The New World with Colin Farrell about a 17th century English explorer, are the two US films featured in the 26-film main programme for the 56th annual Berlinale that runs Feb. 9 to Feb. 19, 2006.

Both Syriana and The New World were already released in the US but have been included in the festival that hopes to attract the celebrity actors of those and other films.

Six of the nine films selected so far will have their world premieres in Berlin. The rest of the program will be announced by mid-January, according to festival director Dieter Kosslick.

"We are extremely pleased to be able to present new films by famous directors as well as productions by young film-makers," he said in a statement.

The Berlinale is the first of Europe's three major festivals in the new year and considered after Cannes and alongside Venice to be one of the world's most prestigious film showcases.

Making the Berlin festival unique are the 400,000 tickets sold to about 1,000 screenings of films in the competition and various sidebar events to ordinary cinema-goers, many of whom spend hours in long queues for tickets.

Two German directors will be competing for honors with world premieres. Oskar Roehler will present his adaptation of Michel Houellebecq's successful novel The Elementary Particles about two brothers set out to uncover the meaning of life.

Two films from Asia are in the programme: a psychological thriller Invisible Waves by Thai director Ratanaruang Pen-ek portrays a contract killer; Chen Kaige's The Promise is a love story of a princess between three men and at US $35 million is called the most expensive Chinese film ever made.

Super Size Me filmmaker Morgan Spurlock plans a documentary on conser-vative US politicians' treatment of science, Hollywood press reported last week.

Spurlock has purchased the film rights to adapt a book, The Republican War on Science, according to the entertainment industry newspaper Daily Variety.

The book by Chris Mooney argues that Republican stances on stem-cell research, global climate change and sex education, among other topics, show a conservative bias on environment, health and security issues.

"There was a time when science was respected by politicians and government officials and when the information obtained through unbiased scien-tific exploration was used for the betterment of society," Spurlock told Variety.

"Today, all of that is being ignored, manipulated and used incorrectly to further political agendas. We need the real answers to the big questions," he said.

The hit documentary Super Size Me examined US eating habits and the health effects of fast food and traced Spurlock's one-month diet exclusively of McDonald's offerings.

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