The press conference of the International Jury, headed by Isabella Rossellini has just finished.
A major issue and the focus of most questions by the attending journalists, was the blatant absence of Jafar Panahi, the Iranian director who instead of being able to join his fellow jury members in Berlin, has been imprisoned by Ahmedinejad's regime. Panahi's jury chair will be kept open throughout the festival, and all jury members expressed their hope that the Iranian government will come to its senses and release him at the very last minute.
Due to Panahi's inability to attend, the questions of human rights and freedom of speech were also being raised during the press conference and Isabella Rossellini rightly pointed out that it is freedom of speech which forms the basis not just of making films, but of culture in general.
The opening film of this year's festival is the Coen Brothers' True Grit, shown tonight at 7.30pm in the Berlinale Palace in attendance of the male lead, Jeff Bridges and the Coen Brothers themselves.