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Clooney Nazi Loot Film to Open in Berlin Amid Haul Probe

George Clooney in Germany
Actor and director George Clooney on set of his current project "The Monuments Men" in Germany. The film features several locations in the state of Lower Saxony and around Germany. Photographer: Alexander Koerner/FilmMagic/Getty

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- George Clooney’s film “The Monuments Men,” about the Western allies’ efforts to protect art treasures at risk in World War II, will premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, the festival announced today.

The movie’s theme took on new relevance this week after prosecutors announced they uncovered a cache of 1,406 artworks - - including pictures by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Pierre August Renoir and Max Beckmann -- in a Munich apartment. Seized during a tax evasion enquiry, many of the works were looted by the Nazis from German museums and Jewish families, the authorities said.

“The art theft of that era is more topical than ever after the Munich discovery,” Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlin Film Festival, said in a statement sent by e-mail. “‘Monuments Men’ will finally give worldwide publicity to this subject, about which far too few people know.”

Clooney, who produces, directs and stars in the movie, co-wrote the script with Grant Heslov. It is based on a 2009 non-fiction book called “The Monuments Men” by Robert Edsel with Bret Witter.

Other cast members include Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and Jean Dujardin. The film was shot in Germany’s Harz Mountains and at Berlin’s Studio Babelsberg this year.

Edsel interviewed surviving participants in a joint U.S.- British military operation involving museum directors, curators, artists, architects and archivists.

The Berlin Film Festival runs from Feb. 6 to Feb. 16. The film will debut in the U.S. on Feb. 7, the festival said.

Muse highlights include the London and New York weekend guides, Lewis Lapham on history and Greg Evans and Craig Seligman on movies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at chickley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net

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