BERLIN (Reuters) - A world premiere starring Juliette Binoche called "Nobody Wants the Night" was picked on Friday to open the 65th annual Berlinale, one of the most prestigious film festivals which features some 400 screenings.
Directed by Spain's Isabel Coixet, "Nobody Wants the Night" is an historical drama set in icy Greenland in 1908 about courageous women and ambitious men. It will be one of some 23 films competing for the Golden Bear, and also stars Japan's Rinko Kikuchi and Ireland's Gabriel Byrne.
"I'm delighted to open the 2015 Berlinale with 'Nobody Wants the Night'," said Berlin International Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick. "Coixet has put together an impressive and perceptive portrait of two women facing extreme circumstances."
It will be the seventh film by Coixet, who was on the Berlinale jury in 2009, to be included in the festival, and the third film in competition for the Golden and Silver Bear awards after "Elegy" (2008) and "My Life Without Me" (2003).
Binoche has also been a regular at the Berlinale with "Chocolat" (2001) and "Les Amants du Pont-Neuf" (1992) among others. She won the 1997 best actress Silver Bear for "The English Patient", going on to win an Oscar for her performance.
Berlin is one of the world's oldest film showcases, with a proud tradition of screening movies with political agendas. However, it has faced growing criticism for shifting towards Hollywood and red carpet glamor.
The Berlinale, which runs Feb. 5-15 and kicks off the 2015 festival season, has only announced some of its competition films, such as "45 years" from Britain's Andrew Haigh, "As We Were Dreaming" from Germany's Andreas Dresen, and "Knight of Cups" from U.S. director Terrence Malick.
"Fifty Shades of Grey", an eagerly awaited drama starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, will run out of competition.
While some previous opening films picked for the Berlinale have turned out to be commercial and artistic flops, last year's opener "The Grand Budapest Hotel" was neither. The off-beat comedy won the Silver Bear grand jury prize and on Friday got 11 nominations for Britain's BAFTA awards
American director Darren Aronofsky, whose "Black Swan" set in the ballet world was a big hit in 2010, has already been picked as the Berlinale's jury president.
Last year, 3,700 journalists from 81 nations attended the festival and 8,400 industry professionals were at its European Film Market. The event is also open to the public, with the 2014 Berlinale seeing some 490,000 people attend films.
(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Crispian Balmer)