Fri, Jan 20, 2006 - Page 17 News List

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The winner of last year's best actress Oscar, Million Dollar Baby star Hilary Swank, is to present an Academy Award at this year's ceremony, organizers announced this week.

Double Oscar-winner Swank, 31, is the first celebrity presenter to be announced for this year's edition of cinema's biggest night, which will unfurl in Hollywood on March 5.

Swank won her second Oscar a year ago for her leading role as a female boxer in Clint Eastwood's wrenching drama Million Dollar Baby, which also won the best picture award.

She walked off with her first Oscar in 2000 for her leading role as a gender-conflicted girl in Boys Don't Cry.

The actress, who last week announced she is separating from her husband of more than eight years, actor Chad Lowe, is now one of Hollywood's hottest properties.

She has recently finished work on horror flick The Reaping and the Los Angeles-set murder mystery The Black Dahlia and is currently shooting the drama Freedom Writers, in which she plays an inspirational teacher.

Swank is the first in a traditionally star-studded parade of Hollywood personalities to be announced as presenters of the golden statuettes this year.

Nominations for the 78th annual Academy Awards will be announced in a pre-dawn ceremony in Beverly Hills on Jan. 31 and the most coveted awards in cinema will be handed out at a glittering ceremony at Hollywood's Kodak Theater on March 5.

Leading representatives of contemporary cinema from around the world have been selected to join the jury of next month's Berlin Film Festival, organizers announced this week.

Indeed, the jury, which is to be chaired by British actress Charlotte Rampling, draws together eight key figures from the movie business in the US, Europe, Central Europe and Asia.

This includes legendary Hollywood producer Fred Roos and Armin Mueller-Stahl, who is one of Germany leading international stars, with the jury to award the festival's prestigious Golden and Silver bears.

Recognizing the booming worldwide interest in Bollywood movies, the Berlin Film Festival, which is one of the top three international film festivals, has included Indian producer Yash Chopra as jury member. Chopra is one of Bollywood's most prominent producers and directors.

The leading South Korean actress Lee Young-ae, who was one of stars of the thriller Joint Security Area, which was shown in Berlin four years ago, is also joining the jury for the festival, which runs from Feb. 9 until Feb. 18.

It is the first time that a South Korean actress or actor has been selected as a jury member for the Berlinale.

Since the end of the Cold War more than 15 years ago, the Berlinale has moved to help to spearhead the push by international film festivals to showcase movies from Asia.

In the past, the Berlinale has selected leading Asian stars such as Gong Li (鞏俐) and Maggie Cheung (張曼玉) to be jury members.

Also selected for the jury this year is Polish cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. A two-time Oscar-winner, Kaminski has worked extensively with US director Steven Spielberg.

Hollywood movie studios have abandoned the UK as a production base in droves, with their investment falling by almost half in the last two years, according to new figures.

But while fewer films were made in the UK, cinema-going was increasingly popular, with British audiences bucking a global downturn in box office revenues.

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