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Madonna is following in her husband's footsteps with her film Filth and Wisdom.

PHOTO :EPA

The Berlin Film Festival might be the first major event on the global movie business' calendar for the year with the Oscars hard on its heels a week later.

But it is rare that the Berlinale and the Academy Awards share much in common in selecting movies for their top prizes.

For the most part, the films that do well at the Berlinale, which tends to celebrate edgy and more political cinema, are not the ones that score well at the Academy Awards in Hollywood.

However, this year could be different with US director Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the role of the ruthless but charismatic oilman Daniel Plainview emerging as the clear favorite to scoop the Berlinale's top honors.

The Berlinale's gala award ceremony tomorrow will be followed about a week later with Oscar night in Los Angeles with There Will Be Blood having been nominated for eight Academy Awards including Day-Lewis for best actor for his towering performance in the film.

The 58th Berlinale has also scored well in the race among the world's leading film festivals for solid quota of glamour with some of the top stars taking to the red carpet in Berlin.

The Rolling Stones helped to kick off this year's Berlinale a glittering launch with Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese's concert movie of what is one of the world's greatest pop groups, which was seen by critics more as public relations coup for the festival than cinematic success.

In fact, a large number of the about 400 films from around the world to be shown during the 10-day festival will mark career highlights of what are essentially members of rock royalty.

As a result, music icons such as Neil Young and Patti Smith have been rubbing shoulders in Berlin with actors such as Eric Bana, Penelope Cruz, Ben Kingsley, Daniel Day-Lewis and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

Madonna also whipped up a media storm in Berlin with her directing debut, Filth and Wisdom, a comedy about the dreams of ordinary people and starring Richard E Grant, but which was not part of the festival's main competition.

A batch of movies has also touched on life in Muslim nations including the struggle for gay rights and the battle of a German women's football team to play in Iran.

But after a disappointing and slow start, the competition for the festival's top honors, the Golden and Silver Bears, has started to tighten as the festival enters its final days with several favorites having emerged as possible favorites for prizes.

This includes British director Mike Leigh's Happy Go Lucky, about a carefree London teacher and Japanese director Yoji Yamada's anti-war story Kabei - Our Mother as well as police political thriller Elite Squad (Tropa Squad) from Jose Padilha which has been a box-office hit in his native Brazil.

But film festival juries are notoriously difficult to predict with Greek-born director Constantin Costa-Gavras and his team having to select from more than 20 movies that have been included in the Berlinale's main competition.

The Star Wars universe, already substantially rendered by computer generated imagery, is giving in all the way to animation.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars' an animated film, will open in US theaters Aug. 15 and be followed by a TV series of the same name.

"I felt there were a lot more Star Wars stories left to tell,'' said Star Wars creator George Lucas in a statement. "I was eager to start telling some of them through animation and, at the same time, push the animation forward." Produced by Lucasfilm Animation, both the film and TV show will be distributed through Time Warner Inc, which owns TNT, the Cartoon Network and the film's distributor, Warner Bros.

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